For many kids it’s their dream to have their moment in the spotlight, and there is no exception for this group of Special Olympic Athletes.
In 1988, District 204 realized that some of their students were being overlooked due to their mental or physical capabilities. By creating the Special Olympic athletic programs, those students now have an opportunity to shine.
“My favorite part was probably when I made a basket,” said Metea Valley High School athlete Sohrab Fallahi.
To make this program possible, many of the athletes’ peers have stepped up to assist their friends. Lihn Le has worked with the team for the past two years.
“We cheer them on a lot because I think a lot of their success comes from us cheering them on too,” said student volunteer Lihn Le.
Well cheering is what they got when Metea Valley High School invited everyone out for this year’s inaugural “Pack the Stands” night against Waubonsie Valley High School.
All the athletes were announced individually while running through the tunnel of cheerleaders, and the fan turn out was more than they could have imagined.
“So many of my friends came, and other people who supported me and my team,” said Fallahi.
“We had everyone here for the home game, we got it packed, the stands were packed and we showed how we can prove ourselves. We improved a lot from last time,” said Metea athlete Benjamin Paulson.
The athletes, volunteers, and coaches have put in a lot of time and effort for this year’s season, committing to the same goal, to make it to the state-qualifying tournament next month.
Even though Metea lost, the night was a slam-dunk. Head Coach Michael Ackerman was happy to see the athletes get their moment.
“Just kind of opening people eyes and creating awareness that’s a huge piece for me when I’m doing Special Olympics, is really creating awareness for the general public and bring people from the outside that aren’t normally in and bringing them here to these events,” said Metea Head Coach Michael Ackerman
Fundraising and raffles for the big event totaled around $250, which will go back into the District 204 Special Olympic program.
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