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Being Awesome: Parish athletes excel at Special Olympics Day


VIDALIA — “V-L-E, V-L-E,” a group of 4 to 7 year olds chanted Thursday while standing in the middle of Vidalia High School’s football field.

The Vidalia Lower Elementary students were not the only ones who excitedly ran, jumped, cheered and even danced out on the field.

Approximately 170 students from pre-kindergarten through high school from each of 10 schools in Concordia Parish were represented during the Third Annual Special Olympics Day, Thursday, including Ferriday Lower and Upper elementary schools, Ferriday Junior High and Ferriday High schools, Monterey High School, Vidalia Lower and Upper elementary schools, Vidalia Junior High and Vidalia High schools and the Concordia Parish Academy of Math Science and Technology.

Even students confined to wheelchairs were still exemplified as athletes in the one place where no one is average and everyone feels awesome, said Mary Huhn, the Special Education Supervisor for the parish.

“Our students should be recognized as everyone else is in athletic sports, and cheered on for their physical and mental abilities,” Huhn said. “They have so much talent that some people do not even realize.”

Students were presented with gold, silver and bronze medals for various athletic events in which they competed.

“I’ve got two,” said Grayson Richard, as he held up his silver and bronze medal he had won for balancing a tennis ball and dashing 25 yards across the field.

His friend Matthew Parker said he was also excited to be a winner of two gold medals for winning first place in the long jump and a 25-yard run.

“I’m super, double, 100-percent excited,” Parker said.

The students were cheered on by their schools’ cheerleaders as they stood on top of a decorated raised platform to earn their prizes, just as one would during the Olympic games while the Vidalia High School band played.

Students were also cheered on from the stands by several special guests, including Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill, Concordia Parish Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick and Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft, to name a few.

Each student also received a T-shirt designed by the first-place winner of a T-shirt design contest, Concordia Parish Academy seventh-grader Sienna Ewing.

The day’s activities were made possible by various sponsorships from local businesses as well as a team of organizers and willful participation from each of the administrators and students from the 11 schools that were represented during the games, Huhn said.

“These people worked really hard … the principals and the transportation department for getting the students here or the Vidalia High School cafeteria for preparing the food … it’s definitely a community effort.”