Fifty-two years ago, Eunice Kennedy Shriver served as the founding sponsor for the first Special Olympic games in Chicago, Illinois. This groundbreaking event provided an opportunity for intellectually disabled youngsters to compete in an athletic event that up before then, wouldn’t have even been a possibility. Shriver envisioned an international movement providing winning moments for children who often suffered ridicule and seldom enjoyed public triumphs. The inaugural Special Olympics of 1968 brought these children out of the shadows and helped others to see them in way without the boundaries of judgment.
The premise behind the Special Olympics served as the inspiration behind our first annual Maiden Choice – St. Agnes “Field Day” event. Maiden Choice is a public school that provides programs for students with autism, developmental disorders, and multiple disabilities. And once a month, our 4th grade class visit Maiden Choice School and read books, play games and engage in various skill building activities. However, on January 30, Maiden Choice paid a unique visit to St. Agnes for a fun and festive event.
Our own Olympiad provided the Class of 2024 a leadership experience unlike any other. The class collectively organized and led the following activity stations: Hockey Dribble Relay, Musical Hoops, T-Ball Hit and Run, Scooter Relay and Laundry Day Relay. While there were many amazing memories from this day, the most unforgettable moment was the award ceremony that was held at the conclusion of the “Field Day” event. The 4th graders and their Maiden Choice mentees were positioned around the center circle of the gymnasium. And surrounding them in an even larger circle was the rest of our student body who came from their classes to offer their cheers and support. As the name of each Maiden Choice student was announced, BEAR NATION revealed personalized posters and erupted with roaring applause for each of the special athletes as they received their own "Olympic" medal.
As a fitting conclusion to our day, the St. Agnes and Maiden Choice students enjoyed a delicious lunch together. And after lunch as our new friends boarded the bus back to their school in Halethorpe, I witnessed with pride as our young BEARS didn’t want the day to end. So as the bus pulled away, the 4th grade class cheered in unison – “Maiden Choice!”, “Maiden Choice!”
The inaugural “Field Day” event served as a unique opportunity to put the Christian virtues of mercy, inclusivity and love into action. And on this day, instead of looking at what a person can’t do; our “Field Day” event provided our Olympians a chance to show everyone what they can do.
I would like to extend my gratitude to our 4th grade teacher, Stephanie Romano, for all that she did to make this day a success. What an event! We are truly blessed!