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Bicycle Carries Special Olympian to World-Level Competition

Posted April 1, 2007

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— A local bicyclist is training for the opportunity of a lifetime—a chance to compete against athletes from around the world.

Her two wheels are taking Kerry Hagner places she never dreamed she would go.

"I was in total shock when I found out," Hagner said during a break from riding her bike through a make shift training course in Chapel Hill. The 22-year-old with Down syndrome was recently chosen to compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China.

She's one of only 12 athletes in the state to be selected as a member of Team USA

"They can succeed. They can be happy. They can excel just like any other child, just like any other athlete," said Ron Hagner, Kerry's coach, trainer, dad and No. 1 fan.

He is working hard to train her for the worldwide competition Oct. 2-11. Talk about pressure.

"All these people counting on me—my family, the Special Olympics and the entire world, " Kerry said with a chuckle.

Kerry isn't even competing yet, but is already getting international attention. Foreign-exchange students from China are documenting Kerry's Special Olympics journey.

It's been quite a journey, too. It took Kerry a year just to learn how to ride a bike. Now, six years later, she trains seven days a week. She says it’s worth it.

"I like going really fast. I love the wind going through my hair. I love being free out on a bike, " Kerry said.

In addition to cycling, Kerry has medaled in swimming, horseback riding, basketball and alpine skiing. She has not been told yet in which cycling event she will compete at the World Games.

Brian Carter of Durham County and A.J. Cottrill of Lee County also were selected as members of Team USA and will be going to China to. Carter will compete in the power-lifting category and Cottrill in equestrian events.

7 Comments

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  • isabell Apr 2, 2007

    All greekgirl has to do is write a line and is is clear to see she is an ignorant redneck. She "reccons" is one give away. Her lack of ability to understand what makes a person that is different "special" is another. Maybe she needs to experience other people unlike herself to understand. Thank God most people beyond her!!

  • Get a clue Apr 2, 2007

    Only a few nice comments for this story? That's sad people. Clearly nice stuff like this does nothing for you. Greekgirl, you are a poor excuse for a human being. That was very rude and you shouldn't have posted on this. WRAL feel free to delete any negative comments on this story. Good for you Kerry, keep up the good work!

  • Greekgirl Apr 2, 2007

    I have to say,I am not a fan of special Olympics,but each to his own.I reccon you would have to wear the shoe to be able to understand why you would put a "special" child out in the limelight.

  • Get a clue Apr 2, 2007

    Best of luck Kerry! You are a true American.

  • Scarecrow Cow Apr 2, 2007

    Good luck, Kerry!!! Make America proud!!

  • rainy39 Apr 2, 2007

    Great Job Kerry. My prayers will go with you on your journey.

  • colliefan Apr 1, 2007

    And to there are individuals such as Pete Singer of Princeton University who would declare Kerry as unworthy of living.