On Feb. 9, a total of 180 participants gathered at Northumberland County for the regional Virginia Special Olympics basketball tournament drawing from the areas of Prince William and Fredericksburg. Participants not only competed on the hardwood in full and half court tournaments, but also in basketball skill trainings.
Children from as far as Prince William and Fredericksburg traveled to the Northern Neck to enjoy the annual basketball tournament hosted by Area 28 Special Olympics.
“It was just an honor, and it’s so nice to see everybody come together that are alike and they won’t feel different,” said Northumberland High School senior Destiny Thorton.
Watching through her eyes and observing her uncle Devon Noel, Thorton said it means a lot to her family and those participating to have such an event.
“It’s good to see him do stuff like this along with others with the same disabilities,” Thorton said. “He plays everything and goes to all the events along with other Special Olympians.”
Head Cheer Coach Javornda Ashton said she was impressed with her girls’ enthusiasm to support all the participants, especially after a late evening at Friday’s basketball game.
“I thought they would have made every excuse in the world, but they didn’t and said ‘sure Misses Ashton, when do I have to be here,’” said Ashton. “Part of being on the squad is being in the community.”
In one of the busiest weeks for the team, Ashton said attending this event fell right in line with her goals for the team this year.
“One of the goals I had for my girls this year was to get more involved in the community,” Ashton said. “Our job is to not only cheer on Friday nights, but also show that we can be of support and show love to other organizations as well.”
Ashton said as a result of the team’s interaction with Area 28, one of the members has been motivated to join the high school team in the future.
The Northumberland High School JROTC performed the Color Guard, followed by sixth grader Inajha Carter singing the national anthem and pastor Janet Grissett, of Melrose United Methodist, with the invocation.
In other Area 28 News, coordinator Tammy Wilkins was also selected to be a presenter at the Operating a Greenhouse with Special Needs Students for the 2013 National Children and Youth Garden Symposium in Denver, Colorado.
Then two weeks ago, the Virginia Special Olympics held its annual Polar Plunge fundraiser at Virginia Beach. In an effort to assist the organization, Wilkins said that $4,385 was raised by Area’s 28 plungers towards the total $1,250,000.
In addition to diving into the cold beach water, a 5K event was held including high school principal David Dixon, resource teacher Brian Hahn, elementary school teacher Cindy English, Hanover Artisan teacher Amanda Wilkins and Tammy Wilkins.
Area 28 covers Essex, Lancaster, Northumberland, Westmoreland and Richmond counties.