By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Nearly 100 Special Olympics student athletes, educators, police, and volunteers from Cornwall and area were rolling at the Four Corners bocce regional qualifier Thursday.
Cornwall Collegiate & Vocational School (CCVS) was bustling as high school students (ages 13 to 21) with intellectual disabilities competed for a spot at the Special Olympics Ontario Four Corners provincial school championships to be held in the spring.
Jim Lacey, a special education teacher at St. Joseph's Catholic Secondary School (SJSS), said his team has been training hard for weeks to make the cut. Lacey heads the SJSS 'School to Community' class for students with developmental delays and physical challenges.
Donning the traditional SJSS colour red, the 'Panthers' were ready to roar against 17 other teams from the region.
"My students are highly-motivated when it comes to competing in these events. They are real athletes like anyone else," he said.
Stuart Prevost reiterated Lacey's sentiments. Prevost teaches students with developmental delays in the System Designated Class (SDC) at CCVS.
His student Angel Rivette, 17, was one of many enthusiastic athletes.
"I thought it was fun. It's just like bowling," said Rivette.
She took full advantage of the similarities to her favourite sport. Her goal is to make it to the provincials. But for her, sportsmanship was the main focus.
"I really enjoyed playing with all the other teams," she said.
Brian Snyder, staff sergeant for the Cornwall Community Police Service (CCPS), said the event coincides with their Law Enforcement Torch Run which raises funds for the Special Olympics.
"We're here to support our special athletes by volunteering our police officers as well cheering them on," said Snyder.
The results will be announced in the upcoming weeks.
The Special Olympics Four Corners provincial school championships program provides quality sport competition for students with an intellectual disability in basketball, soccer, bocce and athletics (track & field).
A total of 32 regional qualifying competitions will be held throughout the 2013/2014 school year. Teams at each regional qualifier will have the opportunity to advance to the championships to be held in June 2014.
For more information, please visit fourcorners.specialolympicsontario.ca.