One Morgan Olympics brings together
High school students clad in body paint covered the sidelines, and other students filled the stands to cheer on the athletes sprinkled around the Morgan County High School football field.
Across the fields with arms pumping by his side, Rick Lamar sprinted for the end zone.
For Lamar, running is not his favorite activity, but on Friday, he could not contain his competitiveness.
Lamar was not the only one stoking his competitive fire. In fact, he was one of over 40 special needs students that participated in the second annual One Morgan Olympics on Friday, April 27.
Those students from all Morgan County's schools came together with parents and student volunteers for a day of competition and fun.
As the lime green T-shirts scattered the MCHS football field, nearly 50 volunteers supported the athletes in seven events—softball throw, basketball, bulls eye, long jump, 50-yard dash, soccer shoot out and sack race.
The event was hosted by the Bringing Exceptional Students Together (BEST) Club at Morgan County High School and sponsored by MCHS teachers Meredith Holloway, Fran Holmes and Wendy Joiner.
Holloway said the event is a day for the athletes to “let their abilities shine.”
Braylon Roach, president of the BEST Club and a senior at MCHS, said she was unsure who had a more enjoyable experience at the event—the athletes or the volunteers.
“A lot of us, being high school students, can be under a lot of negative influences. Stuff like [the Olympics] helps us stay positive. It gives us a different view on life,” said Roach. “It has given me more respect for the people around me and for my peers and understanding that life doesn’t come easy.”
One participant, Jaxson, has been in special needs treatment since he was 3-years-old. Now in elementary school, Jaxson took part the bulls eye competition at the One Morgan Olympics while Jaxson’s mother, Ashley Moon, watched on with joy.
“Last year, they started these Olympics, which I’m a huge supporter of because it recognizes these kids,” said Moon. “I feel like he gets more familiar with people in the community, the high schoolers. That’s important—that he’s accepted in the community and familiar with all these faces.”
After 15 minutes at each activity station, a horn sounded to inform athletes to move to the next station. Around 11:30 a.m., the athletes took a break to enjoy lunch catered by Chick-fil-A, while the volunteers received pizza from Amici’s. Following the break, the event resumed with one more 15-minute activity block before the awards ceremony.
All participants received a ribbon for participation, and some received recognition as top performers in the specific events.
Holloway said the Olympics were a success, having grown tremendously since the inaugural event a year ago.
“This year’s event was bigger than last year. When I first started with the BEST Club there were six members. Now we have about 30 members, and we had more athletes this year by bringing in all the schools,” said Holloway. “Just looking at everyone’s faces and smiles and hearing the whooping and hollering makes this a complete success. The volunteers really supported the athletes and made it all about them which is really good to see.”
After seeing the event’s popularity grow over two years, Holloway expects another big turnout next year.
If left up to his mother, Jaxson Moon will be back again next year.
“It’s a good thing,” said Ashley Moon. “It’s important that everyone gets together whatever their ability or disability may be.”
While Roach will graduate from MCHS this spring, she certainly hopes the BEST Club continues its success sponsoring the Olympics.
“We’re here for [the athletes], and they’re here for us too. It’s the best feeling in the whole entire world,” said Roach.
Holloway echoed Moon and Roach’s sentiments.
“Everyone enjoys it. The parents like coming out to see their kids out here enjoying it,” Holloway said. “Watching that teamwork and caring made for a great atmosphere.”
Back at the finish line, Lamar could not wipe the smile off his face after the 50 yard dash, but he may have summed up the day for most of the participants.
“The sack race was my favorite,” said Lamar. “But I won every event today.”
Printed in the May 3rd, 2012 edition.