By Leila Dycus intern

This year’s One Morgan Olympics brought students from all Morgan County schools together for a day of socialization and smiles. “The reason this day is such an important day is because it allows for their abilities to shine, taking away their disability while doing some healthy competition at each event,” said BEST Club teacher sponsor Meredith Holloway. On Friday, May 2, special needs students from across the county gathered in the MCHS stadium to participate in the One Morgan Olympics. The games were a chance for students with disabilities to interact with their peers. MCHS’s BEST Club sponsored the event. “We do this every year,” said BEST Club President Alysse Bell. “It’s our big end of the year event. Everyone came together this year to put this day together.”

The morning began with the entering of the athletes. BEST Club members lined the stairs leading down to the field and cheered on every athlete that came through. Participants beamed with joy as they accepted the applause and cheers. MCHS students poured into the stands to watch the day’s events. Sheriff Markley provided the opening ceremonies for the third year. “I want to tell the athletes to play hard, try to win, encourage others,” said Markley. “When you do win, win graciously and when you do lose, lose graciously.” Jessica Bailey sang the national anthem, and a prayer was said before the games officially kicked off. The eight events were set up like centers, with BEST Club members at each to demonstrate for and encourage the contestants. At softball toss participants threw balls and marked them with flags, who ever got the ball the farthest won. The bull’s eye event was designed for contestants to throw an assortment of balls and Frisbees through a round hole. 50-yard dash and long jump added track and field like events to the line up. Basketball shoot out had BEST Club members picking up the smaller athletes allowing them to slam-dunk the ball. The smiles on their faces proved that this was one of the favorite events of the group. Soccer shoot-out had competitors rocketing balls past the BEST Club students.

Tug of war was a chance for the special needs students to join with the club members to win a tough competition. But the highlight of the day’s events was the sack race. Here BEST Club students helped their disabled friends have a once in a lifetime experience of flying through the course. Members would put smaller athletes into the sacks pick them up and bounce them through the course. The smiles on their faces read that sack race was a chance for them to fly. Even students that were wheel chair bound were able to participate in this event. Meredith Holloway, one of the event’s main sponsors, said that Mrs. Dennard, a Morgan County Primary School teacher, came up to her during the event to show her a photo she had taken. Tears filled Mrs. Dennard’s eyes as she told Holloway about how one of her profound disable students that is wheelchair bound smiled after trip through the sack race course.

“This is only the second time I’ve seen her smile all year,” said Dennard. The smile of the little child in the wheelchair summed up the day’s events. One Morgan Olympics is a time where students are able to come together and be treated like average students. MCHS student Alex Ewing said that she liked volunteering at the event because it gave the special needs students that are normally secluded a chance to interact with other students. “I like the good vibes on the field because everyone is happy,” said MCHS student Alana Stewart. For athletes, the games are a time where they can try something new and make new friends. Participant Creshunda Moon spoke about how fun One Morgan Olympics was for her, how she enjoyed getting to socialize and try new things.

Another athlete John Guinn said that his favorite parts of the day were the 50-yard dash and the sack race. After the morning filled with activities contestants were served lunch from Madison’s Chick-Fil-A. The BEST Club hosted a tailgate part fundraiser to offset the cost involved with One Morgan Special Olympics. Faculty members decorated tables to the theme of their favorite football teams. Mr. Ainslie’s class voted for the best decorated table and Sandy Bell’s Alabama table won. Fulton Pritchett was in charge of music and played songs that the students could dance to after lunch. Holloway said that the awards ceremony is her favorite part of the day. During the ceremony each athlete comes up to stand on the platform when their name is called and a One Morgan Olympics medal is placed around their neck.

“It takes a team effort to pull off such a big event and I appreciate everyone’s dedication to our athletes of Morgan County,” said Holloway. Holloway made specific mention of John Robbins, PE teacher and wrestling coach, who along with his wrestling team set up the field for the games. BEST Club sponsors Jodi Robbins, Wendy Joiner and Tara Deliagle. Burns Warfield with Madison Chick-Fil-A for their donation of 70 sack lunches and Alysse Bell for her leadership and service as BEST Club president.