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Special Olympics showcases UCPS students

Isabella Bartolucci, 17, a junior at Weddington High School, and Cory Bernsdorf, 18, a senior at Porter Ridge High School, assist a Weddington Elementary School student in one of the field competitions at Thursday’s Special Olympics.

About 165 Union County elementary students “showed their stuff” Thursday, (May 27, 2010), during this year’s UCPS Special Olympics held on the ball field of Porter Ridge High School.

Thursday’s event was the precursor to Friday’s Special Olympics, which will feature middle and high school students. Porter Ridge High School has hosted the UCPS Special Olympics since 2008.

“Everything is going very well,” said Deanna Nardell, a teacher at Porter Ridge High School and an event organizer. “You want everything to run smoothly, but as great as you think you’ve planned for everything, the key is to be flexible.” Nardell added that the two-day event took between six to eight months in the making.

The elementary school event featured 25 field events and 25 race events, said Bill O’Connor, the Special Olympics coordinator. In order to participate in the games, O’Connor said a student has to have a cognitive disability.

When you add up all the student, school and community volunteers, O’Connor said between 600 and 700 individuals helped make the event a success. “The Porter Ridge Interact students are the ones behind the scenes running everything,” O’Connor said.

Thursday’s elementary school competitions featured help from about 165 high school students who came from around the county. The students were partnered with the young athletes as their “buddy.”

After each event, students were awarded their medals in an impromptu ceremony held on the sidelines.

Friday’s Special Olympics showcases the talents of UCPS middle and high school students, who will be “buddied” with Porter Ridge High School student volunteers. There will also be some adult participation in the games from area group homes, O’Connor said. Friday’s event features almost 300 athletes from UCPS middle and high schools and the community.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe
Posted: May 28, 2010 by Ms. April Dawkins

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