The excitement that had been building through Western Wayne’s elementary schools, middle school, and high school could be felt by all working with this year’s student participants in the 12th Annual Track and Field Area P Special Olympics that took place on May 9 at Delaware Valley High School stadium.
“It’s the day they look forward to all year,” Elizabeth Bellush-Moore, Western Wayne special education teacher, said. “The event is so special because it is all about them.”
Bellush-Moore described how her middle school students worked to prepare for the Special Olympics event in which they had the opportunity to spend the day in friendly competition with their peers from other local school districts.
“We would practice the different running events so the students would know where to start and stop,” Bellush-Moore explained. “We would also practice for the softball events.”
The special Olympians competed in running events, such as the 50M walk, 100M dash, the 400M dash, and the mile run. They also competed in high jump, long jump, shot put, and softball throw.
One of Bellush-Moore’s students who greatly enjoyed his experience at Special Olympics was eighth grader Braydon Christian.
He noted winning a gold medal in the 50-meter run event as a highlight.
“I liked playing with my friends,” Braydon said.
Bellush-Moore explained how Braydon had an exceptionally special day because his older brother came to cheer him on as a surprise.
Along with a crowd of spectators made up of teachers, administrations, family, and friends, the student athletes also spent much of the day cheering on their fellow athletes.
Lorna Gilpin, an aide at Western Wayne High School, explained the positive atmosphere at the games.
“All of the kids from our school were cheering on all of the Western Wayne participants,” Gilpin said. “It was so nice to spend the day with the children where they could spend time interacting with peers of their own age from other schools. The whole day was filled with excitement.”
Gilpin is an aide for Western Wayne junior Patrick Gilligan. Patrick agrees with Gilpin that the Special Olympics was a wonderful event.
“It was a fun day,” Patrick, who won a medal for his efforts in shot put, said. “I saw some of the kids I knew from Dyberry Camp.”
Patrick and some other Western Wayne special education students attend Dyberry Day Camp in the summer with other special education students from Honesdale, Wallenpaupack, and Wayne Highlands and have the opportunity to do many activities such as swimming.
Patrick’s classmate fellow junior Marisol Henkel also had a rewarding experience at Special Olympics.
“I liked the 50-meter run,” she said. “It was fun to see my cousin from Evergreen.”
Gilpin explained how Marisol’s cousin attends Western Wayne’s Evergreen Elementary School and was also there at the games as a participant and said it was great when the two interacted at the event.
Like Marisol, senior Shawn Dixon enjoyed the same type of sporting events at the games.
“I liked the running,” he explained.
Shawn’s aide Andrea Covey discussed the atmosphere the students experienced that day.
“The students develop a camaraderie with each other and are very supportive,” Covey said. “It’s not like a competition. It’s just fun.”
All local students who attended the event truly enjoyed their time together.
Students from Western Wayne’s Robert D. Wilson Elementary School, Evergreen Elementary School, Middle School, and High School participated and brought home several gold medals and many silver and bronze.
“One of the most rewarding parts for me as an educator is seeing the success and progress the students make from year to year,” Bellush-Moore said.
All involved look forward to returning to participate next year.