Over 150 students from elementary to high school in St. Clair County came together to compete and have fun at the annual St. Clair County Special Olympics held at Moody Miracle Park on Oct. 10.
Elementary, middle and high schools from Ashville, Moody, Margaret, Springville, Odenville, and St. Clair County participated.
Each school marched onto Moody Miracle Field for opening ceremonies, led by Irondale Police Chief Ken Atkinson and Pell City Police Chief Paul Irwin carrying the Special Olympic torch.
“Those of us in education wonder why we do this sometimes,” said St. Clair County Special Education Coordinator Nona Vickers. “We do it for days like today, one of the best days of the year, and it’s all about the kids.”
JROTC for St. Clair County Schools presented the colors, and students from Ashville Middle School, Odenville Intermediate School, Springville High School and St. Clair County High School led the Pledge of Allegiance. Sarah Crow from Ashville Middle School sang the National Anthem.
Awards were presented for banner and t-shirt designs. Terry Houmard from Moody Jr. High School had the winning design for the t-shirt this year, which was printed on all shirts for participants and volunteers. Each school had the same design but a different color shirt.
Banner design winners for Best Use of Theme were Ashville Elementary School and Moody Jr. High School. Best Use of Students to create the design was Margaret Elementary School and Odenville Middle School. The winners for Originality were Moody Middle School and St. Clair County High School. Winners in the Eye Appeal category were Odenville Elementary and Springville Middle School. Best Overall design winners were Odenville Intermediate and Ashville High School.
Special needs students competed in track and field events such as 50 meter dash, 25 meter wheelchair race, 30 meter motorized slalom, and softball throws. Younger athletes, ages 5 – 7, competed on the Moody Miracle Field with new equipment donated by the Moody BETA Club.
Athletes had “buddies” that were assigned to them, to be their friend, cheerleader, and make sure they were at their appointed areas for competition. Volunteers from St. Clair County Schools JROTC, Springville Key Club, Moody BETA Club, and high school students from St. Clair County schools assisted their athletes throughout the day.
Six physical education teachers lead the events, Kathy Glaze and Jessica Hood from Odenville Elementary School, Becky Seymour and Shane Traylo from Moody Elementary School, and Bret Owens and LeighAnn Molpu from Margaret Elementary School.
“This is a day the [special needs] students can feel special. The day is all about them,” said organizer Sandy Ryan, St. Clair County Special Education Department Clerk. “Some may not be able to participate in regular sports, but here they can win, get ribbons, and have a lot of fun.”
While not competing, students enjoyed free activities such as face painting from Kristen Simpson at Star Shine Faces, karaoke, snacks provided by local churches, and getting their photo taken with Hoppy the Llama, brought by Nancy Miller-Borg. Both donated their time and services.
“The Special Olympics are solely reliant and supported by individual and business donations and sponsors,” said Ryan.
Sponsors include City of Moody, St. Clair County Commission, Calvary Baptist Church, Odenville Presbyterian Church, Springville Methodist Church, First Baptist Church of Moody, Flow Church in Ashville, Acmar United Methodist Church, Friendship Baptist Church in Springville, Coca-Cola of Birmingham, Chick-Fil-A in Leeds, Ford Meter Box in Pell City, Ragland Screenprinting, National Cement in Ragland, Pucker Powder, Moody Motors, Kona Ice, Springville Pediatrics, North Cardiology Center in Gadsden, Rape & Brooks Orthodontist in Branchville, and Miracle League Organization.
“We’re growing every year,” said St. Clair County School Superintendent Mike Howard. “It’s wonderful to see all the schools come together for the event.”
As for Sandy Ryan, she is already starting plans for next year’s Special Olympics event.