Led by an approximately 150-member contingent from host school Jerry L. White Center, more than 700 Detroit Public School athletes paraded around the track Friday at Renaissance High School before they waged friendly, inspirational competition in the 32nd anniversary Special Olympics Detroit Local Games.
The weather provided a perfect setting for competition in five events – 50 meter dash, 100 meter dash, standing long jump, softball throw, and M.A.T.P. (Motor Activity Training Program). The competition was judged not so much by who finished first, but was contested in the spirit of the Special Olympics’ motto: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
“This event allows our special-needs children and adults the opportunity to participate in athletic competition the same way as normal people,” said Tia Von Moore-Patton, Jerry L. White principal. “And they are normal. They just have a disability.”
Fox 2’s Ron Savage served as master of ceremonies, while Detroit Public Schools Board of Education president Otis Mathis presented the Coach of the Year Award to Lessinger K-8 Academy’s Beverly Brown and the Outstanding Volunteer award to Mann Elementary’s David Chapman. Renaissance High’s ROTC served as color guard and Cody High’s Marcus Hill recited the Special Olympics’ motto. Cooley High principal Stephen S. Czapski received the Area Director Emeritus Award and a 15-second moment of silence was observed for Vertis Park Jr., a student at Detroit Transition Center who passed away April 23.
This year’s event was coordinated by Jerry L. White adaptive physical education teacher Beth Plumridge and involved 48 coaches along with more than 200 volunteers from Lutheran High North, Lutheran High Westland and the Detroit Downtown Optimist Club.