High School boys 100-meter dash. (Photo credit Lauren Feldman)

Plainedge Hosts Spring Special Olympics 2024

The games officially begin with the lighting of the torch.

The sun shone brightly on the Saturday morning that Plainedge hosted the Spring Special Olympic Games. Good thing, too, as the day included competitive track and field events for over 500 athletes supported by more than 300 coaches. These athletes, children and adults with intellectual disabilities, dedicated months to training for an Olympic-style competition that culminated with the Spring Games.

Athletes entered the field to the applause of a great crowd.

“The Special Olympic Spring Games provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase the hard work, dedication, talents, and tremendous athletic achievements of these special athletes, while also paving the way to eliminate social barriers and stereotypes differently-abled individuals face,” said Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino. “The Town of Oyster Bay is very proud to be a partner with Special Olympics New York and thanks the Plainedge School District for their assistance in making this important event a reality.”

Opening ceremonies included a welcome-to-the-games, where all competing athletes were invited to parade down the track to the cheers of friends, family and fans in the crowd. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edward Salina congratulated the athletes on their hard work, and was proud to welcome them to Plainedge. “The Plainedge community embodies the spirit of inclusion and unity, [it is] a place that stands firm in support for one another without hesitation or reservation. It is with great pride that we host the Special Olympics here in the Plainedge School District, a testament to our unwavering commitment to inclusivity and empowerment. I extend heartfelt gratitude to Special Olympics New York for entrusting us with the honor of hosting the 52nd annual Spring Games.”

This year was particularly special for Plainedge, who debuted their very own Spring Games competitors. One competitor, Plainedge student Jack Puckhaver, announced the Special Olympics athlete oath; “Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

The impact of these games on the lives of competitors and family cannot be understated. “Special Olympics New York provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing them a continuing opportunity to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, make friends, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families,” Diane Colonna, vice president, Downstate Operations Special Olympics, New York said.

Plainedge will also be hosting the games next year, before passing on the torch once again.

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