Updated: May 9
Rob and Alex are best buds. They are residents at the Alverta Bolick Home in Asheville and teammates on the Buncombe County Special Olympic soccer team. This summer, the duo will compete in the 2022 Special Olympics U.S. Games in Orlando.
“You have to try out to be on the team,” Rob asserts. “But if you try out and don’t make the team, you can still come and practice anyway.”
“We warm up first thing at practice,” Alex chimes in. “We do stretches and drills and then we scrimmage. I like when we scrimmage.”
All five Bolick Home residents participate at county Special Olympic events throughout the year. Rob is a “Global Messenger.” He has been trained in public speaking and serves as an ambassador for Special Olympics. Rob recruits potential athletes, volunteers, and sponsors through public presentations.
Both men enjoy playing soccer. They know how to pass the ball, and each knows the position he plays and what is expected in the game.
Rob is proud of his defense: “I try to stay between the player with the ball and the goal.”
“I’m the one who gets the ball and scores—sometimes,” Alex smiles.
Rob was the first resident to live at Alverta Bolick Home after it opened in 2006. He was featured in a Charity & Children
August 2007 article when he was 36 years old.
Rob remembers it was hard to leave his childhood home in nearby Weaverville, but he visits with his mother often. He is light hearted, often joking around with the other residents. Now 52, Rob says he has always valued the friendships he has with the other men.
“I love living here. It is comfortable,” he says. “My favorite people live her. Alex lives here. We hangout, play games, and have a good time together.”
Rob is more somber as he reflects on his dad’s passing in 2019. Alex quickly lifts his spirits saying, “Your dad was so funny and was a good guy.” Rob smiles and agrees.
Alex came to Bolick Home in 2009 after his mom died from cancer. He was 18 years old. Today, the 30-year-old lets everyone know that Rob is his best friend. “I like hanging out with Rob. He shares happiness with everyone.”
Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s (BCH) ministry for special needs adults is designed to serve men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
BCH offers a safe living environment with a Christian atmosphere which includes opportunities for spiritual enrichment, preparation
of nutritious meals, transportation, enhancement of daily independent living and social skills.
“We like going to church on Sunday, we just walk over,” Alex says. “It’s right there.” He points to Calvary Baptist Church where the men attend Bible study and worship on Sundays. The adjacent church was where the home’s benefactor Alverta Bolick attended.
“I think God is great,” Rob says. “I look forward to the day when I go to heaven and meet Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”
The men stay busy during the week attending classes at the community college and doing other off-site activities. But for now,
Rob and Alex only have one thing on their minds, the Special Olympics U.S Games.
“There is a private jet that will fly us to Florida,” Alex boasts. “I really want to do my best. It would be great to win a gold medal and go to the Special Olympics World Games.”
BCH’s Asheville IDD administrator/QP is Stefanie Effler. “Rob and Alex are not only great representatives of Alverta Bolick Home and our statewide intellectual/development disabilities program, they are great ambassadors for Baptist Children’s Homes.”
Alverta Bolick Home is one of nine homes serving individuals with intellectual and development disabilities in six communities across North Carolina. The long-term care homes help meet the unique needs through gender-specific group homes. The goal is for residents to reach their highest level of independence. To find out more about the IDD program, visit www.bchfamily.org/idd.
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children