By Margaret Liendo
Volunteers and staff came together at SJC on October 16 to take part in the this year’s Special Olympics, an event dedicated to providing fun-filled games that are adapted for the athletes.
While it may be just another day of service for the enthused helpers, most of the athletes have been waiting for this event all year long! This day is not only about having a good time and enjoying each other’s company, but also about the greatness that each athlete can achieve through his or her participation and by the encouragement they receive.
The visiting athletes were cheered on as they paraded throughout the Danzi gymnasium with volunteers lining the sides with smiles and welcoming applauses. Members from the American Legion followed suite to present the flags to officially begin the event.
With much joy and dedication, the volunteers brought out the best in each of the athletes who took part in different games, such as basketball, bowling, baseball, crafts and more. Emcee Jase Panebianco rallied on and further encouraged participants throughout the event with much gusto and pep!
“You know that good feeling you get by helping others, well let me tell you, you are overwhelmed by that same feeling the whole time through,” Erika Pimentel, a volunteer who helped out in baseball, stated. “Just seeing a smile on an athlete’s face can make your day.”
Throughout the games, a group of volunteers were busy assembling special lunches for the athletes to bring home. This group was efficient and amazing in assembling over 50 bagged lunches! As the games drew to a close, the fun continued with the award ceremony where the athletes received medals in recognition for their efforts in the games. This was especially incredible and humbling because you could really see the happiness and carefree joy they felt as their gold medals shimmered around their necks. The event concluded with a charismatic and interactive performance by Jester Jim, who did some pretty incredible feats and awesome juggling acts!
The Special Olympics was truly an amazing experience. Students such as Conor Johnson remarked, “the Special Olympics really are one of the best events of the year!”
A special thank you goes out to all of those individuals and volunteers that were involved in making this event successful time and time around, especially Pat Tracy and the members of the S.T.A.R.S. (Students Taking an Active Role in Society) club. Without all of you involved, we would not have had such an amazing turn out!
With all of these fun things to do and the great memories made, it is no wonder our volunteers keep on coming back; we hope to see many more faces at next year’s Special Olympics!