Being a Part of Something Greater - FHSD Special Olympics Basketball Tournament

Posted on 01/26/2018
Being a Part of Something Greater - FHSD Special Olympics Basketball Tournament

Sports doesn’t just give participants the chance to experience the thrill of victory. It also allows the community to come together to support each other – to be a part of something bigger and more important than just their personal needs. A perfect example is the annual Francis Howell Special Olympics (FHSO) Basketball Tournament in January. Athletes and volunteers from all over the District joined together to show that the true thrill is in knowing how much this community cares for each other.

This is the fourth year that FHSO has hosted the tournament, and approximately 25 teams and 200 athletes participated. “It means so much to the athletes to be able to participate,” said FHSO Director Joe Shaw, who is also an assistant principal at John Weldon Elementary. He’s always the first person to say that this isn’t possible without the support of the community. "I couldn't be more thankful for the student and adult volunteers that work to make the tournament successful. Without the generous donation of their time and talents, we would not be able to host this wonderful event. I know that the volunteers feel very rewarded when they are done working."

FHC Activities Director Scott Harris can attest to that. “This is one of our favorite events of the year. I've been involved with Special Olympics for the last 30 years and I truly enjoy the fact that Francis Howell Central can host this wonderful event.”

A player makes a free throw during the Francis Howell Special Olympics Basketball Tournament.It wasn’t just the host school that jumped at the chance to share the love of basketball. Many of the 90 volunteers were also from Francis Howell High School, in addition to a Francis Howell Middle School student, Sarah Marian. Members of the FHSD Administration team came to assist, as well. And the whole tournament wouldn’t be as exciting and fulfilling if not for the various fundraisers throughout the school year that help support this special cause.

Logan Scott, a sophomore basketball player at FHC, volunteered the entire event, working more than nine hours that day. But the last thing he would call it was work. “It is so much fun watching these athletes compete,” Scott said, “and the joy they have while playing the game of basketball. It was an amazing day, and I loved every minute that I was here helping out.”

Scott was not alone. “We had over seventy Spartans helping out with this event,” Harris said, “with all three levels of boys’ basketball, all three levels of girls’ basketball, our basketball coaching staffs, student council, our sponsors, and parent volunteers who ran the concession stand. Our girls’ basketball program ran a concession stand, and they are going to donate to the FHSD Special Olympics an additional $300 that they raised.”

“Our activities, clubs, and teams all want to take part in a community service project and be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Harris said. FHC girls basketball coach Hayley Leake and boys basketball coach Larry Anders certainly gave their players this opportunity. But the time and effort still must be put in by the students. The kids are certainly not shying away from that mission. And volunteers didn’t need to be Lebron James to help the make the basketball tournament more enjoyable. For instance, FHC Student Council sponsor Stacy Denningman, had her students run the “Victory Village,” which was full of games, food, and entertainment, further brightening an already joyful atmosphere.

Many activities take place in FHSO throughout the year, including an annual softball tournament put on by the Francis Howell Special Olympics each spring (see a video on the FHSD YouTube Channel). However, in just its fourth year, the Francis Howell Special Olympics basketball tournament has earned a place in our community’s heart, and it’s the best example of how we show our heart – by helping others.

Harris said, “Our basketball programs and student council have really put in a great effort over the last four years to make this a wonderful event not only for the athletes and their families but for the Francis Howell School District community."


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