Lee County honors special olympians
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - 9/26/2018
Sept. 25--TUPELO -- Over the summer at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Madison Dennis won a shiny bronze medal with Mississippi's flag football team. Her and nine teammates beat out competition from North Carolina and North Dakota for a spot on the podium.
At Tuesday evening's Lee County Schools board meeting, the Saltillo High graduate received a certificate from the district to commemorate her participation in the games. More than those physical mementos though, Dennis holds onto the memories of friendship made through the athletic competition.
"I liked getting to talk to the other athletes about what disabilities they have, what sports they compete in and how they did," Dennis said. "We were really close to the team from Alabama. We made a good friendship with them. It was cool to get to know them."
Dennis was one of 17 Special Olympians from Lee County schools honored at the meeting. Students participate in a regional competition, a statewide competition and the national competition in July.
Beyond the competitions, the games have grown into a yearlong event.
"We start planning for our Special Olympics in August when school starts," Lee County special education director Kathy Dickerson said. "Each teacher knows what activity their student is interested in and coaches will help the athletes practice throughout the year."
Dickerson said that the amount of athletes competing in the Special Olympics in Lee County Schools has tripled over the past 10 years. Before the Northeast Mississippi regional competition at Tupelo High this past April, students lined hallways to send off their athletes and the team from Mooreville and even received a police escort.
"The Special Olympics used to be a small special education initiative," Dickerson said. "Now it is a full Lee County Schools initiative with help from our administration, teachers, coaches, students and everyone else involved."
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