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McKayla Kingsbury is all smiles after winning a Bronze medal at the
Stepping off the bus following a 90-minute journey south to the Suicide Six ski area into bitter cold under cloudy skies last Friday did not seem promising for athletes and partners destined to spend the entire day outside competing for medals in the Vermont Special Olympics Unified Sports Competition. The morning chill had coaches working to get athletes warm and prepared to take the course by storm when each was called to the starting line to represent Harwood Union High School and take away a medal – for themselves and for the school. Worries about the cold temperatures faded as the sun poured down and warmed the air to 50 degrees.
The March 9 competition started out with a need for an improvised seat to put in the big sled we use to transport an athlete with limited mobility from the lodge to the starting line. At 7 a.m., Malcolm Towne – HUHS custodian – fashioned just what the team needed out of a spare chair. Principal Lisa Atwood provided breakfast. Sue Duprat had arranged the bus and outfitted coaches with the radios they needed to pull off the event.
“Once we arrived at Suicide Six, the athletes and their partners got pumped to pull off stellar performances, and they did just that. Our athletes were entered in the 25-meter and the 50-meter events and everyone competed in both. There were 18 students, 2 races each, 36 races in all. The team brought in 18 gold medals, 2 silver medals, 8 bronze medals, 6 fourth-place ribbons and 2 sixth-place ribbons,” said coach Carla Bell.
The athletes earned these medals and ribbons:
Carigan Evans and Aenea Mead, Gold and Bronze; Maddie Evans and Tymber Amon, Gold and Gold; Tommy Johnson and Sophie Furlong, Gold and Silver; Britney Evans and Charlotte Caffrey-Randall, Gold and Gold; McKayla Kingsbury and Zack Brown, Bronze and fourth place; Alicia Evans and Kelly Myrto, Gold and fourth place; Grace DeFelice and Maura Riley, Gold and sixth place; Faith DeFelice and Morgan Becker, Bronze and fourth place; Christopher Riley and Tyler Tierson, Gold and Gold.
The Harwood Partners Club travels to statewide competitions three times each year. In the fall the team bowls, winter is for snowshoe and the spring sport is Bocce. The team consists of athletes with challenges and their partners without challenges and all members together.
“We could not work as a group without the undying support of every teacher, administrator and support staff member in the building. The teachers allow our students the time they need to train and compete which may mean time out of class; the para-educators join the team and put a lot of work into making the team practices and competitions flow smoothly; the administration provides our funding, bussing and breakfast on the mornings of competitions; the dedicated kitchen staff squeezes in preparing our breakfast on competition days in between preparing food for the rest of the school; the custodial staff keeps our equipment in order and can even improvise a last minute need for us. We could not compete without the backing of the whole faculty and staff of HUHS. Thank you to everyone for your continued support of this team. Special thanks to our athletic director, Sue Duprat, for always going the distance for the team,” Bell said.