Students stand holding medals

April 24, 2023

LANCASTER, Texas -- Lancaster ISD hosted its annual Special Olympics track meet on Tuesday, April 18, with more than 100 student-athletes from seven school districts participating. This is the 12th year the event has been held. The day is known for being fun, showcasing friendship, teamwork, and healthy competition with students from Cedar Hill ISD, Ferris ISD, Midlothian ISD, Lancaster ISD, Red Oak ISD, Terrell ISD, and Waxahachie ISD.

“The students look forward to this event every year,” said Eddie Bratton, Lancaster ISD special education teacher and Special Olympics coordinator. “It’s a time for them to shine, be highlighted, and be celebrated.”

The opening ceremony for the event featured the parade of teams. The crowd erupted in cheers as the athletes marched onto the field, creating a heartwarming moment that set the tone for the rest of the day. 

The ceremony also included the presentation of the colors by Lancaster High School JROTC, the introduction of Lancaster ISD school board members and executive leadership team, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the reading of the Special Olympics oath, and a prayer from the City of Lancaster Mayor, Clyde Hairston.

“The Special Olympics is one of my favorite events each year because it helps build character,’” said Hairston. “It’s amazing to see the students compete with each other in the events. I am always happy to attend the annual track meet and cheer on the students.”

Ferris ISD parent Cristin McKinsey said she loves seeing the joy on her daughter’s face as she competes in the running events. 

“My daughter loves to run, and she gets so excited when it’s time to race,” said McKinsey. “I love that the Special Olympics brings out her competitive side. We didn’t know how competitive she was until she started racing.”

In addition to racing against her peers, McKinsey says her daughter loves participating in the parade of teams. 

Cedar Hill ISD student Brandon Ray says he loves participating in the Special Olympics every year.

“The races are my favorite because I like running and can run really fast. I also like to throw the ball and play with my friends,” said Ray. 

Lancaster ISD Board of Trustees Secretary Carolyn Morris says she loves the event because it helps bring the students together.

“The Special Olympics help the students understand unity,” said Morris. “It instills a sense of pride, aids in their education, and keeps them active while fostering a love of sports. Most importantly, the students learn the importance of teamwork and how to be part of a team, a necessary skill for their futures.” 

The track and field events were full of excitement and energy as each athlete gave it their all. From the sprint races to the long jump, they left everything on the field. The athletes’ determination and focus were evident throughout the competition, and the joy and pride on their faces were infectious as they received their medals. 

“The best part about all the kids coming together from the different districts is seeing them happy. They have a great time whether they win or lose, and it’s gratifying to witness them relax and have fun with their friends,” said June Flowers, Head of Delegation and Head Coach in Waxahachie ISD.

The Special Olympics is an event that allows everyone to get involved while creating life-long memories for students. Thank you to the Lancaster ISD Special Education Department for hosting such a phenomenal event.

“I hope the students take the experience of the Special Olympics with them for the rest of their lives. I want this to be a great memory and a moment in their educational lives they can talk about forever,” said Bratton.

Congratulations to the athletes who participated – they are all champions in every sense of the word.

To view additional pictures from the 2023 Special Olympics Track Meet, please click here.