By Rubin E. Grant
Lisa Alexander was in for a big surprise when she entered her son Christopher in a local race for special needs children when he was 8 years old.
“We didn’t know he was a great runner,” Lisa Alexander said. “He was so little and he just took off and kept running when he crossed the finish line. He’s kept running ever since.”
Now a junior at Mountain Brook High School, Christopher Alexander will be in for the run of his life this month. He will represent the state of Alabama in three events at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games June 5-12 in Orlando.
Christopher’s qualifying times will allow him to participate in the 400- and the 800-meter runs as well as the small javelin throw.
The Mountain Brook Board of Education recognized Christopher during its meeting May 16.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for Christopher to be chosen to compete amongst so many amazing athletes at the Special Olympics USA,” Lisa Alexander said. “He has run at the local and state level and is now looking forward to competing nationally. We’re super proud of him.”
Christopher, nicknamed “Cap,” has competed in the Alabama Special Olympics, but this is a major step up in competition for him.
“This is a lot bigger competition than local and state,” Lisa Alexander said. “It’s huge.”
Christopher can hardly wait for his big moment to arrive.
“Christopher will tell you that he’s so excited about going to Orlando to run,” Lisa Alexander said. “If you ask him how fast he’s going to run he will tell you, “100 MPH,” and always laughing.
“He’s been practicing with his coach, Lauren Ritchie, and she has been amazing getting him ready. Christopher also has been supported by his community and his family for so many years and this is very special to him. He has seven medals to date and says that he’s coming back with number eight.”
Opening Ceremonies will be June 5 and can be viewed on ABC. Track events are scheduled for June 6 and 7.
“Christopher is going down by himself with the delegation from this area,” Lisa Alexander said. “He’s going to the stay at the Olympic Village along with the other Special Olympic athletes.”
The USA Games consist of athletes from all over the United States and they participate in tennis, track & field, swimming, golf, soccer, surfing, powerlifting, softball, volleyball and other sports. More than 5,500 athletes and coaches will be involved and more than 125,000 spectators are expected to attend, including Christopher’s parents.
“The greatest thing about the Special Olympics is it gives people with special needs a chance to thrive and interact with other children,” Lisa Alexander said.
Chris Alexander, Christopher’s dad, said the Special Olympics are, well, special.
“I always encourage people to the attend the Special Olympics,” Chris Alexander said. “Special Olympics changes people’s lives and you can see it when these children are competing by the looks on their faces. It’s amazing what it does for them.”
Christopher’s joyful exuberance is on display whenever he runs.
“Christopher runs with a huge smile on his face always,” Lisa Alexander said. “He loves running because he is good at it and he loves to be active. He has remarkable abilities in so many areas of life, but Special Olympics provides a way for Christopher to show his love of sports to all.”