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March Madness Is Embraced By Special Olympics

Handy Middle School Hosts Regional Tournament

March 7, 2009       2 Comments
By: John Keuvelaar

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On Saturday, 21 teams from across the Mid-Michigan area descended upon Handy Middle School to participate in a basketball tournament. But this wasn't just any tournament and these weren't just any athletes. These were Special Olympians who have been working hard preparing for this Regional Tournament.

As many people may know, Special Olympics is an organization that provides year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Their vision is to create a more accepting and inclusive world for everyone.

Northland B Team consisted of (Front Row from Left to Right) Shawn, Jimmy, Richard (Back Row) Steward, Robert, Matt, James (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Both parents and players get souvenirs during the Special Olympics. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Baro Heidel fixes up Liz Heidel's hair before the game. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

#10 slowly dribbles to ball down the court while awaiting for fellow teammates to reach their possessions. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

10 quickly rushes past 52 of Northland and moves in towards the basket. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

For the athletes, families, friends and volunteers, this event and many like it are much more than a sporting event. It is a celebration of life. These athletes and fans embrace the true meaning of competition. Training and working hard for a common goal, these athletes give their all, regardless of physical abilities. But it is their respect for teammates and opponents alike that is so inspiring. Their drive to achieve and pride in accomplishing that task, whether it be as simple as dribbling down the court, making a basket or winning the game, is equaled by the joy they show for a teammate's or friend's similar success and effort.

On the courts, the competition was fierce as the teams battled in each of five different divisions. Several weeks prior, the teams were formed based upon age and abilities. They then practiced hard and were placed in their appropriate divisions. Now was the time to show what they have learned and accomplished. Based upon the play on the courts, these athletes have learned a lot. In the end, it was the smiles and high fives that took center stage.

When the day ended, success was not measured by the score on the board. It was in the happy eyes and smiles of the athletes, families and volunteers that were blessed by the experiences of the day. As the Special Athletes creed says: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

There were many brave souls on this Saturday.

Players enjoy themselves as the finish their game during the Special Olympics. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Three friends from the Shooters team 21 Shawn Minoel, 2 Brendon, and 10 Anthony Haveman joke around with one another. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

#15 of the Falcons dribbles the ball down to court. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Player on Area 7 team sends a chest pass to a fellow teammate. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

#13 of the Wildcats runs the ball down the court with fellow teammate beside her. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

#10 of Northland rushes to regain control of the ball. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Head Coach goes the Wildcats together and tells of the plans in the 2nd quarter. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

In-between games a parent gets a coffee at the bake sale. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Group of both students and teachers work together during the Special Olympics work on the Student Fundraiser. (Group from Left to Right) Sara & Grace Richards, Christina Root, Caitlan Gottschling, and Jason Pelletier) (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Both fan and player talk quickly about their view points of how the games were going. (MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

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"The BUZZ" - Read Feedback From Readers!

chachabob Says:       On March 09, 2009 at 07:13 AM
I am the Area Director for Bay-Arenac Special Olympics.
What a great article and photos!
You caught the complete spirit of S.O.

Thank you so much for coming out to our tournament!

Some future events are our local swim meet at Handy on April 28.
Track and Field Meet at Handy on May 9.

Please contact me for more information!

Thanks again-Barb
kbsbeltz Says:       On March 10, 2009 at 03:05 PM
as a coach & mother of two special Olympic athletes it is great to see such interest and coverage of these events. it makes it all worthwhile.
Agree? or Disagree?

John Keuvelaar

John Keuvelaar is a college student at Midwest Photography Workshops and Delta College.

More from John Keuvelaar

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