Operation: Fill the Stands a success for Special Olympian's mom

Published: Apr. 22, 2014 at 11:51 PM EDT|Updated: May. 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM EDT
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Bojangles Coliseum had to be the happiest place in Charlotte Tuesday morning. Hundreds of people, many of them first-timers, came out to support the Special Olympics.

It was almost overwhelming for Vanessa Infanzon. Her son, Ben, is a Special Olympian. They attended the opening ceremony last year.

One thing bugged Vanessa the past year: there were few spectators in the stands.

She posted a picture of the small crowd on her blog, called eSpecially Ben, and named her mission Operation: Fill the Stands.

Charlotteans responded beautifully.

"It just reminds us that Charlotte is a community that cares," said Leann Simmons who saw WBTV's story about Vanessa's mission on the news. "Just tell us where to go, point us in the direction, and we're going to go."

Simmons said it was a beautiful experience.

Nearly 1200 athletes marched around the coliseum to some very loud applause. Groups of people held signs to also cheer the athletes on.

"I feel warm in my heart," said Vanessa. "That kind of support is just wonderful to see," she said.

Greg Morrill is the director of Mecklenburg County Special Olympics. He told WBTV it was wonderful to share the experience with more people this year and let the community see what they do.

Competitions are scheduled Wednesday and Thursday at Charlotte Country Day School and the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center. Click here for more information.

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