SOUTH HADLEY, Mass (WGGB) — For the second year, Michael E. Smith Middle School in South Hadley hosted the Special Olympic games.
Local students with special needs gathered today to compete. Mike Toper from Ware organized the event.
This is only one of three events a year that he organizes to give these students equal opportunity.
“Typical students will have the opportunity to participate in sports in fall, winter, and spring. By giving school day games for these students each season, it provides special needs students with a similar opportunity,” says Toper.
Competition began at 9 a.m. with bowling and after lunch, the athletes participated in basketball games.
The bleachers were filled with fans cheering the athletes on.
Dawn Berard was one proud mom in the stands. “I am full of pride. It’s very exciting for me; my son and husband come to watch too. It’s a family event,” says Berard as she cheers on her daughter Tessa.
The volunteers are all boys and girls varsity basketball players. They find this day both fun and rewarding.
“I believe everybody is equal. This is like the Western Mass finals for them. It’s so awesome,” says volunteer, TJ Fitzell.
The day concluded with an awards ceremony where each athlete received a much deserved gold medal.