DRAFFENVILLE - It was a send-off to remember as one by one on Friday morning, members of the Special Olympics Bowling Team made their way into the commons area of Marshall County High School.
Brimming with excitement, the students tried very hard to contain their enthusiasm as hundreds of their peers poured out of their classrooms, lining the hallways.
Members of the high school band appeared, testing their instruments as the level of excitement continued to grow.
As time rolled around for the procession to begin, band members lead the way, marching down the hallway of the high school, the sound of the drums beating as loudly as the hearts of the students following behind.
Members of the bowling team made their way through, enjoying high fives and wild applause from their adoring fans. Having made it through the U-shaped hallway system, team members were announced one by one and presented to a roaring crowd of parents, teachers and students in the commons area where they received a hero's welcome.
The bowling team was then treated to lunch in the cafeteria with family and friends before loading up on the bus and making their way to the county line, escorted by the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department.
Headed off to state competition, they traveled on Friday and began bowling competition on Saturday where several members of the team earned metals in their respective competitions.
Student volunteers Olivia Roberts and Mary Cox were along for the ride, assisting students in any way needed. Of why they were moved to volunteer Roberts said she felt led to join the Special Olymipcs group after working in the peer tutoring program in 7th grade.
"At the beginning of this year we got a letter saying ‘Special Olympics needs you’ and I thought it sounded perfect for me," Roberts said. "I knew I needed to do it.”
Mary, whose brother, Jacob Cox, is a member of the Special Olympics team, said her love for volunteering started when Jacob played on the Top Soccer team for children with special needs.
“I can just remember that I started out helping to get water for them and doing little things and really had a heart to want to do it. I just stuck with it and have been doing it for like the past five years.”
Special Olympics Coordinator Ginny Cox who says she was greatly moved by the send-off for her students said of the weekend trip to state, “What is really great is that these athletes know they are embraced by their peers, by their friends and parents as well as the community. They are such great kids – they are precious and they deserve this.”
It was obvious from their response on Friday, ranging from smiles and laughter to tears of pride and joy, that parents appreciated the outpouring of support from everyone involved. MCHS Collaborative Teacher Mrs. Leah Beth coordinated the send-off for the team.
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