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Students Volunteer at Special Olympics Meet

Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Smiles were contagious at Biddle Field April 12 during the 2012 Area M Local Special Olympics Track and Field Meet. Hosted by Dickinson and presented by the Mechanicsburg Area School District, the meet drew 365 Special Olympians from six regional school districts and two private schools and hundreds of student-athlete volunteers.

Students from every Dickinson team pitched in to assist the athletes, said Women’s Basketball Coach Dina Henry, who worked with Assistant Swimming Coach Kellie Ayers to organize the Division III Week event. “We asked them to dedicate any out-of-class time that they could,” she said.

Micah Smith ’15, a member of the men’s swim team, was one of them. “These kids are working hard and trying their best, and they don’t have all of the opportunities most of us have,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to support them.”

The Special Olympians competed in shot put and wheelchair shot put; high and long jumps; walks, runs and dashes; a softball throw; and a “turbo-javelin” match; they also enjoyed music and noncompetitive activities such as a ring toss, dancing, face painting and crafts.

The top-scoring athletes will advance to next week’s regional games at Messiah College. But there were hundreds of additional winners there, said Lynda Haser, an autism support aide who turned out to cheer on her students from Cumberland Valley’s Good Hope School. “It’s great for the kids—they all find so much joy in this—but it’s also great for the volunteers, teachers and aides,” she said. “When you see the ecstasy on some of the kids’ faces, it brings a tear to your eye. It reminds you of what sporting events are supposed to be like and shows you what’s important in life.”

Published May 2, 2012