(Medina Valley ISD — March 7, 2023) — Under the billowy, gray cloud-covered skies rose a bright and hopeful energy at Medina Valley High School on March 7.
More than 120 students from all district schools filled the track field for the second annual MVISD Special Olympics. The event provides athletic competition in Olympic-type sports for children and adults with disabilities. The message behind the event: inclusion and community where every person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability.
“It’s important to bring inclusivity and to make sure that everybody knows that all students deserve a chance,” said Nicole Brooks, assistant director of special programs. “All students deserve to participate and all students are general education first.”
The event started with the carry of the torch as each school’s students proudly marched before spectators. In the stands, a crowd of adoring fans held colorful and encouraging posters.
Marilyn Mann was among those in the stands and was there to support her son Patricio, a third-grader at Castroville Elementary.
Her son first participated in the Special Olympics in 2019. She said the event left a positive and lasting impact on him.
“It was such a great experience that I will always treasure,” Mann said. “It’s kind of a building block for them to know what they can experience and be part of as they’re moving along in school”
Mann, whose son was waiting on the track for the event to start, nostalgically watched a video of her then three-year-old son running a race with his teacher by his side.
“This was his teacher from PPCD — great lady, Shelbie Stein. I will always be indebted to her for giving him such a positive experience,” she said. “This prepares them … knowing that they can just do so much and there’s no boundaries. There really isn’t.”
John Jaquez, an 18+ special education teacher at Medina Valley HS who helped Brooks and others organize the event, said qualifying athletes will be able to take part in the area meet in April and some will be able to move on to the state event in May.
“We’re taking steps for other districts and the community to see our kids shine,” Jaquez said. “It’s just a joy to see them smile, it makes it all worthwhile — we’ve stayed countless hours to get this going.”