On Thursday, March 8, various districts came together to compete and work alongside the athletes at the annual Special Olympics.

Timber Creek students arrived at Keller High School early that morning to meet up with their buddies and begin the opening ceremonies. Opening ceremonies consisted of all the athletes and their buddies walking around the track. Students from Timber Creek got to get to know students from other schools and other districts and help represent them for the day.

“It’s cool to see all of the other districts come together to volunteer for other people,” said senior buddy Mason Fountain.

Concluding the opening ceremonies the buddies and athletes found their first event. The males went to track events first and the females competed at their various field events. Buddies walked them to their first event and waited and cheered them on.

“Cheering [my buddy] on was just the most surreal thing to me,” said junior buddy Mackenzie Panganiban. “I have an athletic history and I’m used to cheering on my friends in sports, but her outlook on it was refreshing to me… so it was so awesome to see someone that totally took advantage of the fun day and showed so much gratitude.”

The pairings of buddies to athletes were random and allowed the opportunity for older students to interact with younger students in all districts. Buddies could request athletes at their training if they knew them prior and were taken into consideration by those who coordinated the event. In those pairings, buddies and athletes bonded quickly. Students volunteering were impressed by the speed these athletes had that day.

“[My buddy] did the 100-meter sprint, then the running long jump and finally 4×100 meter relays,” said Fountain. “There’s a huge possibility my athlete would beat me in a race.”

Not only did the Special Olympics staff have to organize and pair buddies to athletes, but they also organized the schedule to make sure every athlete was competing on time.

“The schedule I was given was easy to follow. The special Olympic staff did a wonderful job organizing everything,” said Panganiban.

Concluding the events, athletes received their ribbons. This small validation of victory brought joy to everyone’s face. Cheers and claps erupted at each award station every time a buddy and athlete were handed a ribbon.

“The ribbons play a huge part of the track meet because it’s what the athletes are working for, whenever they get a ribbon, they are ecstatic and they always love getting them,”  said senior buddy Alec Tribble. “Seeing them in their element is awesome because you get to see the reactions of them getting rewarded for what they have worked so hard to achieve.”

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