On Thursday, Dec. 15, the annual Special Olympics took place on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas football field. The Special Olympics is an organization brought to schools to help disabled students participate in various athletic events. MSD was chosen to host the event for the fifth consecutive time.
Setup began at 7:40 a.m. for the event, which began at 9:45 a.m. Volunteers and students organized tents, food, games and a place to sit in preparation. After, the volunteers and students lined up on both sides on the sidewalk, creating a red carpet pathway for the special athletes to walk through and onto the field.
The athletes participated in athletic events and were each paired with a MSD football player who provided them with support and motivation throughout the entire competition. MSD students from peer counseling, student government, football and leadership served as buddies to the special needs students.
Olympic games such as a wheel chair race, running relay, toss and catch, king throw, 50-yard dash and 24-yard dash were included for the participants to compete in.
“The football players had massive smiles as they helped the kids run the 50 and 24-yard dashes,” junior varsity football player Ethan Rocha said. “They loved it and were so encouraging and motivational.”
According to peer counseling teacher Lauren Rubinstein, many students, teachers and staff members absolutely love the event.
“It is rewarding for the athletes, and this year there was even more interaction than previous years because each athlete was paired with a specific buddy,” Rubinstein said.
The Special Olympics is a great way to make ESE students feel like a big part of their school.
“The event was amazing seeing kids with disabilities conquering challenging events that I can barely even do,” sophomore Mia Freeman said. “I really love it and it just goes to show that you can do anything you set your mind to and that kids with special needs are so determined to be successful.”