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LHS to host Special Olympics April 23

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Seeking donations to help pay for event needs

By Tom Wilmoth

    For many of Alicia Schneider’s Adaptive Physical Education students, participating in the Special Olympics is the highlight of their year.
    Some in her Liberty High School classes begin asking about it the first day of school.
    That’s why when Schneider learned her students wouldn’t be able to participate in Roanoke’s Special Olympics this year, because the date coincided with the school’s spring break, she needed to take action.
    And needed to do it quick.
    She learned from a call to the Piedmont Region that there wasn’t an event planned this year for that region, but Special Olympics leadership asked her is she would want to plan one herself.
    Schneider took that on as a challenge.
    So in the matter of just a couple of months, Liberty High School’s Adaptive students have gone from not having anywhere to compete in the Special Olympics to serving as the host for Bedford County’s own event.
    On April 23 some 55 special needs students with disabilities from the six Bedford County secondary schools will run, jump and throw to their hearts’ content in the first Special Olympics event held at LHS for the county.

    “I knew they were going to be disappointed,” Schneider said of her students, had they not been able to compete.
    The students will compete in numerous track and field events throughout the day on Wednesday, April 23. Representatives from local law enforcement and others in the community will be involved in the opening ceremony at 9:45 a.m. and volunteers will be on hand to help out during the event. Many teachers at LHS are planning to take classes out to the field to cheer on the participants. At least 100 volunteers will be helping out.
    Schneider said people in the community are encouraged to attend as well. And to help donate to make the event happen.
    Because of the late change, funds for the Special Olympics to be held at LHS are not available from the Virginia Special Olympics Committee. The school is trying to raise at least $1,500 to provide T-shirts to the participants as well as to have water and food on hand for them and the volunteers.
    “We hope the event will grow in future years,” Schneider said, adding that possibly students from Campbell County and Lynchburg could also participate.
    Why do it? “For the joy and the happiness the kids experience,” Schneider explained. “One student started asking me about it back in September. He is the reason I couldn’t (not have them participate in an event.) I couldn’t tell him ‘no’. This is the highlight of their year.”
    Every child who participates will get an award, but their biggest award is the thrill of being a part of it, and hearing the cheers of the volunteers. “They will hold onto their ribbons for years,” Schneider said.
    Putting the event together in such a short time period might have been “an act of craziness,” but it was an action done out of love for the students it will serve. And the chance to “see their faces light up.”
    The event is truly not just for those students participating, but for the entire student body and staff.
    “I am totally grateful to them,” she said of the school’s staff that have pulled together to help make the Special Olympics event happen.
    Want to donate to the cause? There are several options for you to consider:
    • $500— an announcement will be made at the opening ceremony recognizing your donation and support.
    • $1,000— an announcement will be made at the opening ceremony recognizing your donation and support and a banner with your company logo will be made and placed on the fence where athletes and fans will enter the stadium.
    • $1,500— an announcement will be made at the opening ceremony recognizing your donation and support; a banner with your company logo will be made and placed on the fence where athletes and fans will enter the stadium; and your company logo will be placed on all T-shirts for athletes, volunteers and event personnel.
    And donations of any amount are appreciated.
    If you decide to contribute, send your donation to: Liberty High School, Special Olympics Event, Attn:  Alicia Schneider, 100 Minutemen Drive, Bedford, VA  24523. Checks should be made payable to Liberty High School Special Olympics.
    For more information contact Alicia Schneider at 540-586-2541 or aschneider@bedford.k12.va.us.