Born to stand out: Alabaster, Pelham students compete in Special Olympics

Alabaster and Pelham students join together for a day of fun and competition at the systems’ second annual Special Olympics. (For the Reporter/Eric Starling)

Alabaster and Pelham students join together for a day of fun and competition at the systems’ second annual Special Olympics. (For the Reporter/Eric Starling)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— The theme of the day at Pelham High School May 2 was “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” as the Pelham and Alabaster school systems joined together for their second annual Special Olympics.

The Dr. Seuss quote served as the theme and set the pace for the day’s activities as the students participated in 38 different heats and races for the track and field event.

“They thoroughly enjoy this, and this (event) is the epitome of sportsmanship,” said Virginia Aycox, administrative assistant to ACS’s Exceptional Education Coordinator. “These kids, when you compare them to our other athletes for our schools, they may not be going quite as fast, but if you watch they are cheering each other on. They are so happy.”

ACS Coordinator of Exceptional Education Dr. Keri Johnson didn’t hesitate to call it her “favorite day of the year.”

“It allows students to participate in events they normally wouldn’t get to participate in at school,” Johnson said. “Today is all about them.”

According to PCS’s Exceptional Education Coordinator Holli Hicks, Pelham High School’ track and football teams came out to help with the Special Olympics. Other student organizations also volunteered to pair up with the competitors.

“It teaches empathy to those who don’t have disabilities for those that do,” Hicks said. “Also, the ones who do not have disabilities serve as role models for those others. It’s just a good collaborative effort. It’s a time they can all come out, they can all be successful and no one is trying to outdo the other.”
This isn’t the first time Alabaster and Pelham have partnered together for events like this, Aycox said. Allowing the students to mingle with other school systems is beneficial for them, she added.

Hicks said the athletes love the chance to compete and have been preparing for the Special Olympics for a while, and cheerleaders spent a lot of time practicing their routines.

First, second and third place medals were given out, and every student was also given a participation medal for the day. Winners have the opportunity to move on the state Special Olympics as well.

“This is my favorite day of the year,” Hicks said. “You can watch them be successful at the things they love to do. It gives them an opportunity to really show their stuff.”