Pioneer Competes at Regional Special Olympics in Rio Grande

You would be hard pressed to find someone who agreed with the axiom “not everyone can be a winner” last Friday at the Stanly L. Evan’s Athletic and Recreation Field in Rio Grande, the site of the 2013 Regional Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics were hosted by the University of Rio Grande. The Pioneer School held a strong presence, with 31 students participating in the event.  In all, more than 500 students from a dozen schools took part in the event.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to come together with Pioneer alumni and friends they’ve made in other school districts in a unique setting at a large venue,” said Carol Uhrig, a Pioneer School teacher. This was Carol’s final trip to the Special Olympics as a Pioneer faculty member; she’s retiring at the end of this school year, after 35 years. The Pioneer’s annual trip to Rio Grande was a staple at the school even before Carol came on board.

The Special Olympics began taking shape in the 1950’s, spearheaded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The event, which began as a day camp in Shriver’s backyard, grew into a full-fledged movement. Throughout the 1960s, Eunice continued her pioneering work – both as the driving force behind President John F. Kennedy’s White House panel on people with intellectual disabilities and as the director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation.

The Special Olympics’ long and storied lineage has certainly stood the test of time. Or, in modern terms, “it’s kind of a big deal.” As soon as basketball season wraps up, the kids start looking forward to it.

For the past 4 years, in preparation for the Special Olympics, the students from Pioneer head over to Herrnstein field, where they receive training from the CHS Track & Field team days before this big event. This mentorship began thanks to collaboration between CHS Track Coach Dana Cousins and Patti Smith. Patti is a teacher at Pioneer, and mother of star Shot Put thrower Curt Smith who now competes for OSU.

The training paid off. The Pioneer School brought home 12 gold, 16 silver, 7 bronze medals, and a slew full of shiny new ribbons.

It’s the involvement of dedicated educators, coaches, and community partners like these that make everyone feel like a winner.

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