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Insights and Observations

Henry's Highlights
Monday, May 29, 2006

By Henry Hinton

Road to good deeds finds Skip breathless in G-ville


7:00-9:00 a.m.

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In view of East Carolina’s exit from the Conference USA Baseball Tournament and the onset of summer, perhaps some levity is in order, particularly since this column will run on a holiday Monday.

ECU football coach Skip Holtz has poured his heart and soul into helping Special Olympics and other special populations programs in and around Greenville this year.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run, which crosses the state leading to the Special Olympics State Games in Raleigh, came through Greenville this past Thursday morning. Talk 1070 broadcast the festivities live from the Greenville Town Common.

Many members of the Greenville Police Department and Pitt County Sheriff’s office were in attendance along with a large group of the Special Olympians from the area. The Torch Run not only signifies the lead-up to the games, it also is a fundraising mechanism for the games run by local law enforcement officials across the state.

Coach Holtz was offered up to escort the torch part of the way from Greenville to Farmville by former ECU basketball coach Mike Steele after Holtz used Steele’s bid card at the recent Pirate Club auction to offer $2,000 to allow Steele's now-famous Special Olympian son Drew to be an honorary assistant baseball coach for Billy Godwin next baseball season. (Coach Godwin later told Drew he would have let him done it for free. Mike really liked that).

Coach Holtz showed up bright and early Thursday morning for his run, which was suppose to be approximately three miles from the Town Common to the Stanton Square Shopping Center area on the west fringe of town just before the 264 Freeway begins.

The football coach was to be accompanied by Drew and other Special Olympians, along with about a dozen police officers who were scheduled to intermittently run the torch on its way to Farmville, where other officers would take it on its journey westward.

The event also served as a preliminary promotion for the upcoming Drew Steele-Skip Holtz Golf Classic next week. So, Drew left the Town Common running the torch along with Holtz and the officers. A Greenville recreation department van followed the group with water and other needs for the runners. The plan was to have some of the runners occasionally drop back and ride a ways to ensure no one was overtaxed in carrying the torch.

As soon as the entourage left the town common, Drew handed the torch off to Holtz. (Mike said Drew wasn’t interested once the TV cameras were out of site). At that point the run was on with the police officers being led by Coach Holtz carrying the torch.

Holtz had agreed to try to carry the torch to the shopping center where Steele was supposed to be waiting to pick him up. However there was a slight problem. Steele, now a prominent insurance agent, had taken a phone call from a client and lost track of time.

When Holtz and the other runners arrived at the designated pick up point, Stanton Square Shopping Center, Steele was nowhere to be seen.

When he finished his call he realized he was going to be late to pick up the coach, so he headed out to catch up with the torch run group quickly. He finally found them several miles onto the freeway and sure enough Holtz was still in the front of the group carrying the torch. The Daily Reflector newspaper carried a picture Friday morning of the coach and other runners running up the freeway.

No one is quite sure, but it appears that Holtz may have run up to 6 miles before Steele showed up to rescue him. Why he was still carrying the torch and had not gotten into the van has been up for debate.

Perhaps he was pushing himself to see how far he could run. The coach has recently lost a lot of weight and admits to being in some of the best shape of his life. Perhaps it was pride. Steele has suggested he was trying to emulate Forest Gump. (Remember “I was running and running and running.”)

It appears that when Holtz finally stopped and got in Steele’s car he wasn’t seeing any humor in it.

Asked to describe what Holtz said when he got in the car, Steele responded this way Friday morning during a Talk of the Town segment on Talk 1070, “I don’t think I can use those words on the radio.”

Steele jokingly said that one of the good things was that Holtz actually could not speak for approximately 10 minutes upon entering his car, obviously catching his breath. That apparently gave him time to cool off, literally.

When asked exactly how far Holtz had run, Steele responded, “Well, Farmville’s not that far, is it?”

At any rate, it was a huge success and helped the Greenville Police Department raise over $14,000 for the upcoming state games.

It was also a great kickoff to the upcoming golf event, which promises to be the largest golf tournament in Greenville since the Michael Jordon Celebrity Golf Classic.

Three tee times (two at Ironwood Country Club and one at Greenville Country Club) have been nearly sold out. As of Thursday there was room for three last foursomes. Interested golfers should contact

The event commences next Sunday evening, June 4th, with a huge star-studded dinner at Minges Coliseum where 700-800 people are expected. Tickets for the Sunday night event are $75 each and can be purchased, while available, on the website.

There will be lots of surprises and lots of fun at the event leading to the golf on Monday June 5th.

Hopefully, Holtz and Steele will be speaking by then.

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This page updated 04/21/08 07:06 PM.

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