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The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The latest

Special Olympics returns for second annual event
Gabbi Mortellaro
Exceptional Education athlete Taryn Uyak poses with members of the football team at this year’s Special Olympics. “I won that race that day; I feel happy,” Uyak said.

After last year’s return of the Charleston County Special Olympics, hosted by Wando, exceptional education athletes from across the district came flocking to the school to participate in the games for the 2nd annual event.

Kevin Shiver, the head track and field coach and the stepfather to one of the participants, notes the importance of the games.

“Now that I’m Madison’s [Isenhour’s] step-father, it really means a lot to me, not just for her, but every special needs student. I see how it affects them,” Shiver said. “They are often the ones who are cheering everyone on and the ones that are not involved in a lot of events and this is a chance to put the focus on them.”

Shiver said the Special Olympics are also significant due to the impact that it has on the athletes as a whole.

“I think it helps them with their confidence. I think it helps them understand that they have a group of people here at Wando that really care about them and really want to see them succeed,” Shiver said.

Shiver said the Special Olympics provide not only for the district as a whole, but also specifically for Wando students and participants in the games.

“It helps them make friends and to get to know people and to get to know people by name here at Wando,” Shiver said. “[It] creates a smaller community and I think they feel like they are a part of the Tribe, so to speak.”

In order to prepare for the games, Shiver encouraged some of his track athletes to volunteer. Senior Donald Warren was one of the many athletes that volunteered.

“I was involved in Special Olympics by helping students, particularly assisting them with the ball throwing, which involved a tennis ball and a softball. So, we tracked down distances and made sure they got their awards,” Warren said.

Special Olympics athlete Sammy Yohannes
leaps during the long jump competition.
“[I was] happy… big smile,” Yohannes said. (Kaya Steele)
Abby Zwetzig, an exceptional education teacher, is responsible for the creation of the events last year and the continuation of them this year as well.

“When I was in high school, I was a unified partner with the students like the students I teach now. And so that made me want to do this event here,” Zwetzig said. “So, then last year, we had our first event and so, I just coordinated for the whole district for middle and high schools.”

This year, according to Zwetzig, 13 schools and 200 athletes attended the Special Olympics. Although the numbers are high, Zwetzig still has high hopes for the future.

“I hope that it gets bigger and bigger every single year, that we have more participating schools from Charleston county, we get more general education participation,” Zwetzig said. “We are already thinking of an idea for next year about doing like a unified spirit week before. And so, just making it a bigger event for everybody involved and being able to create those relationships from there and in the school setting.”

However, Zwetzig has realized that although the games itself are the same as last year, there have been many organizational changes this year.

“It was definitely more organized. Last year, I learned a lot about how to organize it and last year I did everything on my own. And this year, I had a committee of around 20 teachers that helped me put it on,” Zwetzig said.

Other than a few logistical changes, Zwetzig recalls how this year’s Olympics were very similiar in regards to what they generally included.

“Otherwise, the main things were similar,” Zwetzig said. “It was the same events, still middle and high schools, there was Olympic Town. We tried to get the whole school out there.”

Emma Montieth, one of Zwetzig’s exceptional education students, was one of the many participants that enjoyed the games

“Special Olympics was perfect. I liked running on the track and I was just having fun

and was happy,” Montieth said

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