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Student athletes shine in LEISD Special Olympics
Kelsey Kruzich/Staff photo - Frisco ISD sent athletes to participate in the sixth annual Little Elm ISD Special Olympics Wednesday. Maggie Williams is helped by her "Buddy" in one of the assisted walk track events.
With banners waving in the wind, big smiles on faces and hugs abound, the sixth annual Little Elm ISD Special Olympics brought memories to student athletes and volunteers both Wednesday at the LEISD Athletic Complex.
The track and field day event hosted 177 athletes from Lake Dallas ISD, Sanger ISD, Prosper ISD, Frisco ISD and Little Elm ISD, giving students with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to participate in Olympic-style events.
The day's activities began with the carrying of the torch, which was first carried by a former Special Olympian before being passed off to student volunteers and alumni leading up to the Athletic Complex.
After arriving at the stadium, the torch was passed along the track to athletes and Little Elm High School senior Jose Morales was the torchbearer to light the "Olympic Flame." Athletes were given the green light to begin after LEHS Associate Principal Cleota Epps read the Special Olympic Oath, concluding with "Let the games begin."
With the help of 177 student volunteers and 130 adult/community volunteers, athletes participated in events such as the 100 meter dash, 50 meter wheelchair (obstacle), the running long jump and the standing long jump, 25 meter assisted walk, shot put and softball throw.
"This is the highlight of my school year to come celebrate that each moment is a victory no matter how great or small," said Rhonda Bilbrey, LEISD director of Human Resources and adult volunteer.
Athletes were given medals for the events they participated in. Throughout the entire event, each one had a "Buddy," a student volunteer who ensured that the athlete kept on schedule for the events, cheered for them during events, and even helping them through the events if needed. At the end of each event, athletes' Buddies gave them a big hug and even a high five for their accomplishment.
"It's good experience to have to work with kids with special needs. They're just fun," T'Keeyah Rush, a student volunteer, said.
This is Rush's fourth year to participate in the event. Her friend, Alexandria Hannah, has participated in the event for three years.
"I just like making them happy and have a good day," Hannah said of the athletes.