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“I had a great time and it was nice to be outside” exclaimed Mya Estrella Diaz, echoing the experiences of her classmates. On a brilliantly sunny Wednesday morning, some thirty-five athletes gathered on the Lawrence High School track to renew a twenty-seven year tradition: The Lawrence School Day Games, sponsored by Special Olympics Massachusetts. Two years ago, these annual games drew nearly 800 athletes from multiple surrounding communities for a day of competition, exercise, and fellowship. In 2020 the Games were canceled due to the COVID pandemic but were renewed this year, albeit in a much smaller form, limited just to Lawrence High School athletes.  Lower numbers did not dampen the enthusiasm. “It was a fun day throwing the tennis ball and the spear” said athlete Timmy Vo. Athletes competed in the sprints, long jump, tennis ball throw, and turbo javelin, fulfilling the Special Olympics Athlete’s Oath, to be “brave in the attempt.” An additional fifteen athletes participated virtually over Zoom, making this an inclusive event for all athletes, regardless of physical learning space.

 

School Day Games organizer Bill Meuse, a physical education teacher at the school, said “It was a great day of competition for the athletes. Their teachers deserve a lot of credit for supporting these wonderful students.” At the end of the event, each athlete was awarded a Special Olympics medal and a Lawrence High School water bottle and enjoyed a cold treat of Italian ice.

 

It was a fun time for all, but veteran athletes missed the larger Games: “I missed having all the other people join us,“ said Tyler Foote, a School Day Games veteran. Meuse is already looking to the future: “Next year we hope to once again invite athletes from all over the Merrimack Valley, from elementary school through high school. Our goal is to welcome 1,000 athletes to Lawrence.”

 

Indeed, the Games must go on!