Athletes of all types compete in a Lee County track event

Athletes of all types, including students with and without special needs, competed in a Lee County middle schools track event at a first-of-its-kind gathering.

“We are going to do run and track!” said Biannca Clemen, an athlete.

“What we’re doing is unified sports,” said Don Payne, Lee County Special Olympics Coordinator. “This is something that’s just new to the school district this year.”

That means pairing a Special Olympics athlete, like Bryan Hernandez, with a buddy. In this case, Colin Hill, to come together.

“I think this is a fun way for them to get like involved in sports and stuff since it’s like they’re kind of limited in a way,” said Hill, a Three Oaks Middle School student.  “I think this is fun for them, and it’s fun for us too.

“I think everyone is going to be cheering everyone on no matter who’s team you’re from or whatever,” Hill said.

There were eight schools worth of Lee County Middle Schoolers cheering each other on and pushing each other to the finish line.

But the date for the event has a deeper meaning. March 6, is a national end the “R” word day, with the goal of limiting the negative connotations that go along with the word. Instead, the new “R” word is “respect.”

It is a big lesson learned on the track.

“It’s so cool to be here!” Clemen said.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Michael Mora
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