Shelby County Schools holds Special Olympics

Published 2:03 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer 

CALERA – Students from across the county engaged in a variety of athletic activities during Shelby County Schools’ Special Olympics.

Shelby County Schools held its annual Special Olympics on March 23.

“The students were very excited to compete,” said Valinda Pate, Teacher for the Visually Impaired and adapted PE teacher. “They have been practicing at school in order to prepare for this day.”

During the Special Olympics, the students competed in both track and field events. The students also enjoyed extra activities such as face painting, inflatables and a DJ, while they paraded into the event like the pros with an Opening Ceremony.

“The Opening Ceremony is always a special moment,” Pate said. “Current and former students helped lead different parts of the ceremony, and then to see the law enforcement and one of our athletes run the torch in to start the day is always something special and memorable.”

The event provided an opportunity for the local students to compete against other athletes from around the county, Pate said.

“It gives them an opportunity to compete and have people cheering for them and succeed (in) something,” said Marisol Lilly, Working Wildcats teacher for Shelby County High School. “A lot of times they don’t get the ribbon right away until after the event. It doesn’t matter, by that time, they’ve forgotten about it. It’s that they’ve achieved something—they competed.”

Lilly brought a group of 13 athletes who were accompanied by 13 peer helpers to the Special Olympics.

“That way there was one peer helper for each student to be able to cheer them on,” Lilly said. “So, that if we were at different events they had somebody to take a picture, to be there, cheering for them.”

Some of the students who qualified during the event will now go on to compete at the state’s Special Olympics, which will be held May 19-21 in Troy.

“Today, we witnessed the power of determination, teamwork and community at the Special Olympics track & field event,” read an official Facebook post by Shelby County Schools. “We are inspired by our students who showed us what it means to never give up and always strive for greatness. Thank you to all the organizers, volunteers and supporters who cheered our athletes on every step of the way.”

Pate expressed her gratitude for all of the volunteers who helped make the Special Olympics possible.

“This day is a success due to our partnership with the city of Calera and the many volunteers that come to help that day,” Pate said. “We had over 100 volunteers that came to help. The city of Calera has hosted Special Olympics for several years. Alabama Power -EC Gaston Chapter sent a very helpful group volunteers this year. The teachers & peers from the schools are also a big part of the success.”

More information on events at Shelby County Schools can be found online at