The Olympic anthem rang out across the track at Mead High School on Friday, while dozens of athletes marched in front of the bleachers, waving to the cheering crowd. Some athletes used wheelchairs and some used walkers, but all came ready to compete.
As the 10th annual Mead DLC (Disabled Learning Center) Olympics got under way, the student carrying the makeshift Olympic torch was loath to relinquish the spotlight. Eventually she was persuaded to stand with her classmates.
Approximately 95 participants from Colbert Elementary, Prairie View Elementary, Mountainside Middle School, Mt. Spokane High School and Mead High School waited as Mark St. Clair, Mead assistant principal, conducted the opening ceremonies.
Graduating seniors were honored, the national anthem played, and the crowd paused for a moment of silence to remember Mead student Lizzie Jensen, who died last month.
At last St. Clair proclaimed, “Let the games begin!” With that, student athletes from kindergarten through 12th grade took to the fields, accompanied by scores of volunteers.
Organizer Lindy Terry said this year, for the first time, all participants and volunteers received T-shirts. The Breakthrough Leadership class from Mead High School held a fundraiser and garnered support from private donors to buy the shirts, and student Taya LaVigne designed them.
“The great thing about that is our students don’t often get the opportunity to participate in after-school sports and get jerseys,” Terry said. “This is their way to have a shirt that they can be proud of.”
Volunteers shepherded small groups of students through 10 activity stations. Ribbons were awarded to every participant at the conclusion of each event.
At the obstacle course, MaraJade Moore, 9, grinned while bouncing down the track on a big rubber ball. Her smile grew even wider as a volunteer pinned a red ribbon on her shirt. When asked if she was having fun she looked down at her ribbon and replied, “I like it!”
A soccer scramble took place nearby and cheers rang out for every goal scored.
Meanwhile, 12-year-old Brianna Waga showed off her skipping skills while waiting for her turn to bowl. She scored four strikes in a row, but preferred to discuss her recent camp adventure. “There was a waterslide at camp,” she said. “I like water!”
Behind the bleachers, the bicycle/tricycle races proved to be a popular activity. Shayla Arrotta, 9, gravitated to a sporty red trike. With some help, she scooted from her wheelchair and perched on her ride of choice. Helmet on and buckled up, she took off down the track. “This is actually fun!” she said.
Thirteen-year-old Megan Riley was also enjoying herself. She grabbed a bat and positioned herself at the T-ball tee. The wind whipped her hair across her face, but she gave the ball a mighty whack and took off running. Onlookers cheered her home run. As Riley caught her breath back at home plate she said, “I like batting!” Then she grinned. “I’m good at catching, too.”
As the Mead games drew to a close, tired, happy, ribbon-bedecked athletes gave each other high fives. At the end of the day, age, ability, size and skill didn’t matter. On Friday every participant was a winner – every athlete a champion.
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