Special Olympics makes for a special day at Baldwin once again

Ethan Coulehan and Caden Harsh

Baldwin hosted the Special Olympics Summer Games for the 32nd time on Saturday, drawing hundreds of athletes and their families from throughout the region.

Tim Laughlin, co-sponsor of the Special Olympics for more than 15 years, said the event is so special because of the students who help.

“Seeing  students becoming leaders is the best part,” Laughlin said.

Senior Jenna Stefanyszyn said the Summer Games are a highlight of the year for her.

“I like the atmosphere.” Stefanyszyn said. “It’s nice to see (the athletes) succeed in something they like to do.”

Harrison Middle School teacher Anthony Barbano also was happy to help out.

“I’ll do this forever,” Barbano said. “I’m so proud of what we do for the Special Olympics. This day of the year is what makes me the most proud to be a Baldwin alumni and a Baldwin teacher.”

Barbano has been helping out with Special Olympics since he has been a freshman at Baldwin High School. Barbano helps with scores and runners’ times.

New to the Special Olympics this year was an opportunity for elementary school students to compete in their own age group. The focus for them was more on developmental skills rather than actual competition. Paraprofessionals from Paynter Elementary were in charge of program for elementary students.

Some Baldwin high school students help run Special Olympics because they have loved ones who participate in the Summer Games.

“My cousin has a disability and people would say things to him, so I wanted to prove that they are equal,” senior Lexi Shandor said.

“I love seeing the smiles on their faces and how happy they look when participating in the Olympics,” Shandor said.