Local Special Olympian now allowed to walk in opening ceremonies

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Athletes from all over the world are less than 24 hours away from the kickoff to this year's Special Olympics World Games.

It’s a competition Allen and Linda Douglas say has already been an uphill battle for their daughter Allison.

"It's been pretty emotional,” Linda said. “It's been a roller-coaster of emotions."

This week Allen and Linda have been fighting against what they say has been discrimination.

On Saturday, the family was told by officials with Special Olympics USA that Allison couldn't participate in opening ceremonies, stay in the same dorm as other athletes, or go to training camp.

Rules officials say were put in place to protect Allison because she suffers from seizures.

Allen and Linda met with officials Friday morning and say they’re making progress.

"They have apologized for the way in which this was handled and some of the decisions that were made," Allen said.

Allison, a trained equestrian, can now walk with her teammates during the opening ceremony. Officials are still deciding on whether she will need to wear a helmet during the walk.

Allison is now also being allowed to train with her teammates.

"They're looking at how they can better include her so those doors have opened up," Linda said.

Many of Allison's fans in the Piedmont will be cheering her on from far away.

Stephanie Antkowiak will host a watch party Saturday night at Rixster Grill in High Point.

Antkowiak is the executive director of the Arc of High Point which works with people with intellectual and development disabilities.

She hopes to see Allison marching proudly during opening ceremonies.

"We want to show her support and make sure she knows she's got a lot of family and friends back here in North Carolina supporting her," Antkowiak said.

Special Olympics USA sent this statement to FOX8 in response:

“The leadership of Special Olympics USA and the Douglas family met in person today and both parties now have greater understanding of the issues that led prior misunderstandings. As a result of this clarifying dialogue, the family is now in agreement with Special Olympics USA’s previous recommendations, which help ensure the health and safety of Ms. Douglas, while allowing her to compete and enjoy all aspects of the Games, including participating in the parade of athletes, as she is able.”

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