By Kyle LoJacono
Gaither High hosted the Special Olympics games for Hillsborough County’s northern schools on Feb. 17, bringing out hundreds of athletes ready to show what they can do.
The event is known as Stampede Day, which had 20 schools participating this year. Events included the tennis and softball throws, races and the shot put to name a few.
One of the athletes competing for the first time at Gaither was Steinbrenner student Rebecca Plumb, who did the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
“We practiced a lot,” said Plumb, pointing to herself and Steinbrenner teacher and Special Olympics volunteer Floyd Graham. She then added, “I can go fast and do my hardest. That’s the best part.”
Warriors teammate Erin Visoky did the tennis-ball throw and 25-meter run.
“I love everything here,” Visoky said. “I love the tennis-ball throw, the runs, hanging out with my friends and seeing all the fans in the stands.”
Visoky has competed at the event for the last four years going back to when she attended Gaither. She enjoyed the opportunity to get back to her first high school.
“That’s great because I get to come back and see all my old friends and teachers,” Visoky said.
Alex Lange was representing Wharton High at the event, competing in the shot put.
“I’ve done (Stampede Day) four times and I really look forward to supporting my friends from my school,” Lange said. He then added, “I’ve only done the shot put one time before, and it’s actually really easy to learn. You have to put a lot of effort into it though.”
Two of the volunteers at the games were Gaither seniors Kayla and Katie Zambito.
The twin sisters have helped at the games the last four years. The Zambitos are co-president of the Cowboys’ Best Buddies club, which pairs special education students with volunteers. Kayla’s buddies with Luisa Valdez and Katie is paired with Rachel Guevarez.
“I really like being able to help them do a race if they want or support them in whatever they want to do,” Kayla said. She then added, “We both started volunteering with a special needs program that does baseball for kids. Then we started volunteering with Best Buddies and volunteering at Special Olympics.”
Katie added, “Being out here and seeing them run and jump and just have fun is really rewarding. It’s awesome to see big smiles on all of their faces.”
Hillsborough athletes next compete in the area games at the University of South Florida on March 10 for all spring events.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.