By Ben Lane, TSB Staff
Students from all over the North Texas area will gather at Ron Poe Stadium on Friday, April 5 for the 8th annual MISD Special Olympics track meet. Joining the more than 660 athletes will be parents, relatives, friends and more than 600 volunteers who will be on hand to support all of the competitors. Opening ceremonies commence at 9:30 a.m.
Teams from Sherman, Frisco, Community, Howe, Van Alstyne, Lovejoy, Princeton, Irving, Denison, Anna, Pottsboro, and Wylie will join McKinney’s team and compete in track events. The MISD Special Olympics event will be the largest local Special Olympics meet in the Southwestern states.
Liz and Terry Lopez’s daugther Maria (pictured, left, with her dad at last year’s event) will be among those competing on Friday. “Special Olympics is special to our family because on that day that ‘Special’ day there are no disabilities, there are no limitations, there are no syndromes, there are no handicaps there are only children finishing their race,” Liz told TownSquareBuzz.com.
At Tuesday evening’s city council meeting Councilman Ray Ricchi and Mayor Brian Loughmiller both took a moment to speak about the importance of the MISD Special Olympics. “It’s a good event and a fantastic program,” Ricchi said. “I encourage everyone to come out and attend.”
Lougmiller shared Ricchi’s enthusiasm. “If you’ve never been out there before, it’s truly amazing and a lot of fun,” Loughmiller said. “The kids are amazing.”
McKinney’s team, the McKinney Mavericks, make up 220 of the 660 total athletes expected to compete. Janice Morriss, the Adapted Physical Educator for MISD, and Kyle Osborn, who teaches students with special needs from ages 18-22 at McKinney North High School, also serve MISD Special Olympics Coordinators for the MISD team.
The McKinney ISD Special Olympics team participates in three sports during school year: bowling, basketball individual skills, and track and field. “Track and Field is the event that all the students look forward to as soon as the school year starts,” Morris said.
Because of that desire to participate, Morris said that this year’s Special Olympics track meet had so many applications for teams that the district sadly had to turn down some neighboring districts because the meet is already over capacity.
Students will participate in track events including 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash, wheelchair slalom, 50-meter walk, 200-meter run, 400-meter run and many others. Students will also compete in field events varying from javelin, tennis ball throw, softball throw, standing long jump, running long jump, shot put, high jump and others. Many students will also be part of a relay team as well.
Morris said that the event would not be possible without the help of all of the volunteers from all over McKinney. Representatives from the three high schools in McKinney, MISD PE teachers, PALS, Partners PE, Ready Set Teach students from each high school, district staff and principals all join in to help make this day wonderful for all those involved.
The event would also not be possible without the contributions of generous individuals throughout McKinney who donate to help with the cost of the event. The district hosts fundraising efforts throughout the year and this year McClure Elementary and Boyd High School were the top contributors in the district. Many local sponsors also help aid with the cost of hosting an event this large.
Another added bonus of the track meet is the prizes for the athletes. More than 60 local businesses donate items for prize giveaways for the athletes throughout the day. “This just adds to the day of Winning in every way,” Morris said.