Ascension Special Olympic Athletes compete in Field Day

Brandie Richardson

Dutchtown High School's Griffin Stadium was the host of this years Ascension Special Olympics of Louisiana (SOLA) Field Day. Over 100 Special Olympic Athletes, and 200 volunteers, gathered for a day filled with numerous track and field events.

Once the athletes entered the gate of the stadium they were paired with a student from Dutchtown's Allied Health Program, consisting of students considering careers in medical or allied health fields. The student spent the day with the athlete, bringing them from event to event and keeping track of their times.

Tenth grader Alexis Reese, who is part of the program, said participating in the field day mean a lot to her because of how it makes the Special Olympic Athletes feel.

"To be out here with these kids today means a lot because it makes them feel really special so that they could have their own special olympics and this could be their day and to have fun and enjoy themselves and not feel like an outsider," she said.

The field day serves as a pre-competition to get baseline scores for the athletes so that they can be set up in heats during the Capital Area Track and Field Meet on April 11 and 12, said SOLA Ascension Parish Coordinator Jennifer Whittington. During the competition, Ascension athletes will compete against other athletes from East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana and Iberville Parishes at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge.

"We meet here so the athletes can socialize and meet each other in the Parish," Whittington said. "On the end field we have other games that we are trying to get them involved in like bowling and golf for them to explore so that they can go on and do other things if they don't want to run anymore."

The students part of the Allied Health Program use this event to earn some of their volunteer hours that they are required to have during year.

Special Olympic Athlete Devon Guidry of St. Amant High School said he did "pretty good" in all of his competitions throughout the day and is excited for the upcoming track and field meet.

"I ran fast like a cheetah, jumped high as a kangaroo and threw like a baseball," he said.

Meanwhile, Logan of Prairieville Middle, who opted out of competing this year, said his favorite part was all of the running and jumping he got to do.

Events athletes competed in throughout the day included the 50 and 100 meter Wheelchair Race, Motor Wheelchair Race, Walk and Run, Softball Throw, Shot Put, Standing and Running Long Jump, 4 x 100 Meter Relay and Developmental Standing Long Jump, to name a few.