Special Olympics event draws many parish volunteers

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
The long-jump was just one of the events the special-needs athletes were able to take part in.

Special-needs athletes came out to Dutchtown High School in droves on Tuesday to compete in the Special Olympics Field Day.

The event served as the time trials for the athletes' qualifying times and distances for the area track meet, where they will compete among other schools in the capital area at Woodlawn High on April 1.

The day was about the many competitors that came out for a fun day of activity and competition, but they weren't the only participants to join in on the fun and enrichment of the event.

Hordes of different volunteers from the parish came out and helped put on the special day.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office was an instrumental part of the effort. They contributed over 25 volunteers.

Dutchtown High was also front and center. Not only did the field day take place at Griffin Field and the accompanying track, but 60 Dutchtown students volunteered. Even part of the school band sat in the stands and performed for the athletes.

In addition to the Griffins, 30 more students from Donaldsonville High were there to help out. Other than law enforcement and high-school volunteers, 77 members of the Ascension community came out to lend a hand.

"It's a great thing any time law enforcement and schools get involved in functions like these. It really helps create awareness," Special Olympics Director of Sports and Competition Brock Banos said. "It's especially important when we do get that help from law enforcement. We really appreciate all that they do."

The event at Dutchtown was another huge success as 110 special-needs athletes took part. They were able to participate in many different events that included: the 25, 50 and 100-meter dash, basketball, bowling, the long-jump, the softball-throw and many others.

"It's great any time you get the chance to see these athletes in action and be able to participate in the events," Banos said. "It really means a lot. It's great to put it on, and it's great to see them being able to take part and excel."

Ascension parish continues to be an integral part of special-needs awareness. In addition to the Special Olympics Field Day held at Dutchtown each year, Camp Shriver came to the parish for the first time back in November.

The inclusive interactive sports camp is supported by Special Olympics and allows special-needs athletes to participate in many different sports for three straight days.

Volunteers from Dutchtown High also helped out at that event as well as members of the St. Amant baseball team.

Banos thinks that events like Camp Shriver and last week's field day are a vital part of any community.

"These events are so important because It gets awareness out there," Banos said. "There are so many people not just in this country but across the world that have intellectual disabilities and don't know about events like these.

"Events like the one on Tuesday put awareness out there and give them opportunities. It also helps people recognize that there are many out there that have these disabilities, and they need support. Those guys look forward to this."

Banos said that he would like to again give a huge shout-out to Sheriff Jeff Wiley and the Sheriff's Office for all they did last Tuesday.