Students from school districts throughout Central New York showcased their athletic abilities and team spirit during the Special Olympic games held at Cicero-North Syracuse High School on Thursday (May 15).
“Play hard, play smart and have fun,” said emcee Breanna Stewart, former CNS basketball standout and a star for the University of Connecticut’s hoops team.
Stewart helped kick off the event by leading the teams in reciting the Special Olympics motto: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Following an opening parade of teams and with Stewart’s go-ahead, the roughly 800 participants from Oswego and Onondaga counties took to the track. Student-athletes could display their running skills in relays, sprint races or the 400-meter run. Field events included shot put, standing broad jump, softball throw and the running long jump.
“The kids have been so excited about the Special Olympics leading up to (Thursday’s event),” said Brittany Riesbeck, Hannibal school psychologist. “It was the best thing to see them get off the bus with smiles on their faces and ready to go.”
In addition to the 20 Hannibal Special Olympic athletes, Oswego County also fielded a 43-member team from the Phoenix Central School District, a group from Central Square, and its own squad of BOCES students.
“This is just awesome,” said Hannibal physical education teacher Dan Pawlewicz as he stood near the finish line. “The kids work so hard and it’s really nice to see them so happy when they complete an event.”
After the Special Olympics, participants from Hannibal returned to school where their classmates, teachers and administrators welcomed them with a parade to celebrate their accomplishments.