Special Olympics hosted in Mokane
SOUTH CALLAWAY - Hollie Fuimaono and her son, Simon, have been through a lot. But today signifies hope for Simon's future.
"He has come a long way, teeny-tiny when he was born," Fuimaono said. "But these races just give you a lot of hope because it means he's going to do just fine in life."
On Friday morning, South Callaway High School hosted its first Special Olympics event. The event's founders said the competition was created for severely impaired children of all ages to compete. Simon, a ten-year-old student at Brown Elementary in Fulton, was excited he finally got a chance.
“The race definitely wasn’t the best I can do but, oh well, better luck next time. Good luck to whoever else wins,” he said.
Angie Trammell, a teacher at South Callaway High School who organized the event, said she felt it was time students with special needs in mid-Missouri had a chance to compete just like other kids their age.
“These kids that are competing today, they’ve been to hundreds of ballgames for their siblings, but nothing has ever been about them. Today is all about them and their events and them competing,” Trammell said.
Five mid-Missouri public school districts competed in the event, including:
- Fulton (Bush Elementary)
- New Bloomfield
- South Callaway
Trammell said she got the idea when South Callaway's special needs students competed in Herman's Special Olympics last May, but it took a while to background-check all of the volunteers and collect physicals for the athletes. Trammell said she thinks Special Olympics provide students and volunteers with a unique perspective.
"Learning doesn’t just take place within four walls, I think they’ve probably learned a lot out here today, too,” Trammell said.
Of the five schools who participated today, only South Callaway and Fulton had participated in a Special Olympics competition before. Trammell said five other school districts have already reached out to get involved next year.
Missouri State Senator Jeanie Riddle MC'd the event, and introduced the athletes on the field.
"Every day, we see trials and tribulations in our world. Today is about competing... we all get to go home with a smile on our face," Riddle said.
The competition included races of different lengths, as well as a hurdle-jumping competition. Hollie and Simon are not strangers to life's hurdles. Simon's had multiple surgeries, including one that scared his mom quite a bit.
"They had a surgery on his spinal cord, where they actually went in and took a piece of his spinal cord and cut part of his spinal cord, and that was probably the scariest thing I've ever done in my life," Fuimaono said.
"Simon can do anything. These kids can do anything if they put their minds to it. It's just harder for some kids, but if they want to, they can do it."
Simon was just happy his mom could see him run.
“What I was excited about was showing mommy that I’m not a couch potato."
Trammell, the even'ts founder, said she thinks this event will motivate more kids with special needs to compete in the statewide Special Olympics. For more information on the statewide competition, visit their web site.