Dressed in brightly colored pinnies, Special Olympians of all ages run up and down the court Feb. 24 in the San Marcos and Texas State gyms.
“It felt good [to win],” sophomore Ryan Robinette said. “[I played] defense. I scored! Once a week [we practiced with] Coach [First name] Stevens. It was great.”
Special Olympics is a non-profit organization which gives students with intellectual or behavioral disabilities an opportunity to practice and compete in sports. The Eanes team competes in bowling, basketball, track and tennis. It gives special needs students a great opportunity to make friends, increase self esteem and stay in shape.
“Special Olympics gives the athletes a sense of pride,” head of delegation Pegi Pickett said. “They like to compete against each other and themselves. They get physical exercise, meet new friends and get to broaden their social networks.”
Coaches and volunteers are the fuel behind the fire of the program. They help the students improve athletic skills and make practices fun. The coaches are mainly the athletic coaches from all campuses, but other teachers are involved. Volunteers assist and encourage the athletes. A great way to earn Chaps in Service hours is to volunteer.
“Volunteers [are] caring, wonderful, patient, kind, generous,” Pickett said. “We absolutely could not have the excellent programming we have without our WRMS, HCMS and WHS volunteers.”
Sports can be life-changing, and Special Olympics means a lot to the athletes. The fun and encouraging atmosphere provides a safe space for Olympians to strengthen relationships with coaches, friends and volunteers, all while being active and fit.
“Eanes Special Olympians are some of the greatest athletes I’ve ever met,” Pickett said. “They always win gold in my book.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, email [email protected].
If you are interested in donating to special olympics, go to https//: www.specialolympics.org/donate-to-charity.aspx