WHS Hosts 2010 Special Olympics for Fayette County Schools


By Jessie Harris and Brittany Riley, staff writers for The WHS Observer

It’s a cold and windy Friday morning, and as usual excitement is in the air at Whitewater High School. However, instead of the “it’s-almost-the-weekend” vibe, people are buzzing about in a flurry of activity as they prepare for the annual Fayette County Special Olympics. A caravan of school buses are lined up outside the football stadium carrying hundreds of eager competitors hoping to bring home the gold. As they stream through the gates, they are greeted by the cheers and smiling faces of high school students from all across the county. For the athletes it is the most exuberant day of the year.

For the past three months, Suzanne Spatz, the administrative assistant to the principal of Whitewater, and Debbie Parrish, with the Fayette County Board of Parks and Recreation have been organizing this event to be held at WHS. When asked about the preparation for Special Olympics, Spatz listed several tasks that needed to be completed, including designing tent layout, assigning athletes to their buddies, and collecting donations for water and other provisions. Staff members also had to coordinate the band, flag corps, and singers for the National Anthem. All these tasks were worth completing because it is “a day for students to come and support the athletes. We can learn a lot from them,” according to Spatz.

The participants, too, felt this event was worthwhile. “It was fun!” athlete Matthew Hayes excitedly said after competing in his first event, the long jump. Even the volunteers felt the surge of joy when watching the competitions.

Erin Mahlbacher, president of the PALS Club at Whitewater, “felt really helpful and glad to be a part of this day because [she] knows firsthand how exciting it is for them.”

One of the main reasons this annual event is possible is Parrish, who works with the Parks and Recreation of Fayette County. For her, the best part of the day was “seeing the smiles on the athletes’ faces when they succeeded.”

The staff and students of Whitewater High School were thrilled to host the 2010 Fayette County Special Olympics. Principal Gregory Stillions applauded his school for getting involved and volunteering for a worthy cause. He stated that “it can’t get any better than this. With everyone cheering, you can’t help but get goose bumps. It’s our job to make them feel important, and I believe that’s what we’ve done here today.”