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By: Melissa Rau, Staff Writer
On Friday, April 17th, students from all over the county travelled to James River High School for Little Feet Meet.
“Little Feet Meet is Special Olympics for elementary age students and preschool students,” P.E. teacher and coordinator Ms. Thomas said. “So our job is to host the county elementary schools and preschool students, and then sometimes we pull people from outside the county because their county or city doesn’t offer it.”
Some schools travel almost an hour to make it to the event, coming from as far as Bowling Green, Virginia, close to Kings Dominion. All of the Chesterfield County students in addition to these sum up to “about a thousand athletes,” according to Thomas, but these aren’t the only ones packing up the buses.
“Some schools bring buddies, those are the regular-ed students and they come to cheer on,” Thomas said. “Last year I want to say we had about 500 buddies; Bon Air brings their entire second grade to cheer on, my daughter’s school, Grange Hall, their whole class is coming to cheer on. So there are a lot of people here that are not just the athletes, they’re taking part in the event.”
Originally, James River High School was chosen by the P.E. Specialist of Chesterfield County to have the privilege of hosting the event.
“She suggested our school just based on location,” Thomas said. “We’re close to a highway, and we also have a very large parking lot and a large campus that it could take place during the school day.”
While this school was picked based on logistical location, James River wanted to continue the event for the years following, and has for four years.
“We’ve continued to do it because the students love to do it,” Thomas said. “It’s a lot of work for us, but if the students like it, it’s a great event, so why not? I don’t think anybody ever leaves that day not smiling and not having a good time.”
Not only is the event a fun day for participants, but it’s completed as a job well done. The school has received praise from the the organization itself.
“We’ve actually gotten a compliment from the Special Olympics people; they said that in the area, we do the best job of it,” Thomas said.
All of the hard work was more than worth it. All of the athletes, buddies, teachers, school principal, and approximate 370 James River student volunteers had a blast this year, just as they have in years past. And, as Thomas said, “if we can bring that happiness to other people, why not put the work into it to make it happen?”