Special Olympians Shine in Recent Competition

THEY’RE RUNNING: (l to r) Student helper freshmen Sheridan Coles paces Ayrissen Meyer while Bailey Skinner pulls ahead with help from junior Kim Choma, and Pru Martinez closes fast from the rear.

Emma Thomson, staff writer

On Wednesday May 5th, 23 special athletes took the court and the field to compete in the 2021 Summer Special Olympics.

Participants traveled from schools all over the valley to give it their all for this competitive day. “They love to compete, train, cheer, and most importantly they love to be with their peers.  They love the teamwork with peers throughout the school that participate and compete with them,” said Star Valley High School special education director MaryBeth Basye.

Events like this do not simply happen without lots of help and cooperation. “To pull off an event like we did yesterday took the support of every school and program to allow our students to shine in a local competition,” said Basye.

Win or lose, all the Special Olympians felt very proud of their performances, with good reason. They have worked hard all year to get ready for the competition. Pru Martinez  has been walking over 2500 steps a day, eclipsing her goal of 800 steps a day from last year.

Chance Williams has worked hard this year to increase his walking, biking, and mobility, and Jackson Pierce’s biggest accomplishment leading up to the games was to coach Mr. Nichols up to walking 21,000 steps during a school day.

Bailey Skinner used to struggle going up/down stairs or walking/running at all, and now she “so physically fit” according to Basye and simply makes progress everyday.  Ayrissen Meyer enjoys walking and biking—the faster the better—and Dylan Deal loves basketball, especially when he gets to play with some of his favorite peers. He is a quick learner and prefers to go as fast as possible.

“Giselle the Gazelle”, as high school counselor Mr. Josh Frazier calls her, ran with her team of Frazier, juniors McKenna Frazier and Tate Frome, and fellow racer Dylan Deal. They came in a close second in the 4 x 100.  “My favorite part was the relay with the Special O helpers,” said Valencia.  Basye said Valencia is finding her competitive side and is eager to compete with her peers when the sun is shining.

Typically, the athletes would go on to participate in a regional event and then state. After state, successful enough competitors can test their metal against the best the country and the world at national and international competitions every two years. Star Valley won nationals in basketball in 2006. This year’s state competition will take place virtually due to COVID.  “We hope to be back to normal competitions next year,” said Basye.

With the help of many smiling peers and teachers, this day of games and camaraderie saw every athlete receive at least one medal in a closing 30 minute ceremony.