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Geneva College Hosts Second-Annual Special Olympics

Joey Pail, Staff Writer

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On April 28, the Special Olympics were held at Geneva College where four Freedom High School students, along with several middle school students, competed. All four high school students, senior J.J. Wrhen, juniors Gino Gentilli and Brandon Gingerella and freshman Matthew Syzmoniak, received a medal in one of the many events available to the students.
This is the second time that Geneva College has hosted the Special Olympics.

These Olympics started out in the 1960s as a backyard camp hosted by Eunice Kennedy Shriver to try to bring mental disabilities out of the darkness and into the light. Soon after, with much support and many landmarks along the way, the first International Special Olympic games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago. Since then, it has continued to grow and is now the largest program of its kind.

The Special Olympics has been striving to make people with intellectual disabilities feel a moment of normality through certain events and other athletic challenges. These events and challenges give a feeling of joy and exhilaration to all competitors.

“The Special Olympics is an event that allows students with all disabilities, from intellectual to physical, to come together and participate in sports events that they watch and hear their peers participate in on a regular basis without any difficulty. The sports events are designed for the students to compete against others within the community at a healthy pace and level,” Mrs. Jessika Fontaine said.

At Geneva, there were several events that the competitors could compete in. Each student was allowed to participate in three separate events. These events included the 50, 100 and 200-meter dash, softball and shotput throw and the standing and running long jumps.

In these events, Wrhen won a gold, silver and bronze medal; Gentilli won a gold, silver and a bronze; Gingerella won three silvers and Syzmoniak won a gold and two silvers.

“When a student wins an event, it is an amazing sight. Many students go into the event thinking or feeling that they can’t win. Then when they do, all you can see is a smile from ear to ear that displays happiness and confidence. Many students win a medal, whether it is first, second or third place, but even when they don’t, you can see the enjoyment that was had when competing,” Fontaine continued.

“The Special Olympics is important now and for the future, to have students with disabilities be included in sports events, to increase socialization and to learn how to compete in a healthy environment while earning achievements while making memories that will last a lifetime,” Fontaine finished.

Fontaine’s Quotes:
So first why is this Olympics so important to have and continue to have for the future?
**The Special Olympics is an event that allows students with all disabilities, from intellectual to physical, to come together and participate in sports events that they watch and hear their peers participate in on a regular basis without any difficulty. The sports events are designed for the students to compete against others within the community at a healthy pace and level. This is why the Special Olympics is important now and for the future, to have students with disabilities be included in sports events, to increase socialization, and to learn how to compete in a healthy environment while earning achievements while making memories that will last a lifetime.

What kind of reactions do the kids have in the competitions and when/if they win?
**When a student wins an event, it is an amazing sight. Many students go into the event thinking or feeling that they can’t win. Then when they do, all you can see is a smile from ear to ear that displays happiness and confidence. Many students win a medal, whether it is first, second or third place, but even when they don’t you can see the enjoyment that was had when competing.

Do you see a change in behavior or a feeling of belonging/normality in the kids at the competition?
**Absolutely! Students with disabilities always feel and know that something is “different” from their peers and may not understand why they aren’t able to participate in certain activities. But when it comes to the Olympics, this is something that allows all the participating students to be themselves without any judgement from others.

Waters Quotes
Freedom had a total of 4 high school and 5 middle school students attend Special Olympics this year. Each students participated in 3 events. The events that the students were able to participate in were 50 meter dash, 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, softball/shot-put throw, and standing/running long jump. The students did extremely well in all events. The high school students earned a combined total of 4 gold medals, 7 silver medals, and 1 bronze medal. The middles school students also did an excellent job earning 1 gold medal, 3 silver medals, and 6 bronze medals. It was a wonder day and experience and the students were proud to get a chance to represent Freedom Area School District.

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Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper
Geneva College Hosts Second-Annual Special Olympics