East Islip's First Special Olympics Team Brings Home Medals

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Six standout career development students earned medals and gained priceless experiences as part of East Islip’s first-ever Special Olympics team this spring.

Earlier this year, middle school physical education teachers Laura O’Donnell and Diane Wahrenburg became certified Special Olympics coaches. They soon recruited a six-member team at the middle school, began training and entered East Islip’s first team into the Special Olympics Long Island Spring Games South, hosted by Bellport High School on May 22.

“The Special Olympics gives our athletes an opportunity to shine as individuals and be a part of a team,” said Wahrenburg.

The event kicked off on May 20 with a breakfast sponsored by the middle school’s Leaders Club, celebrating the student athletes. In attendance were the athletes and their families, the coaches, Leaders Club officers, Principal Mark Bernard, assistant principals Christian Seifert and Jason Stanton, Director of Special Education Lisa Belz, and Susan Kosser, the assistant to the superintendent for student support services.

At the competition, the six athletes competed in two events each, and each athlete earned two medals. Anthony Gallino went home with two gold medals for the 50-meter race and the softball throw, Ryan Guerra took silver in both the 100-meter walk and softball throw, Krish Kajuria walked his way to gold in the 100-meter race walk and placed fourth in the softball throw, Emily Maccarone came home with gold medals in the softball and mini javelin throw, Sarah Spruyt took bronze medals in both the 50-meter race and the softball throw, and Christopher Urraro took the silver in the 50-meter race and gold in the softball throw.

“It was an incredible experience,” said O’Donnell. “Training for the events, getting to know the students on a more personal level, and being there with them and their families to celebrate their achievements at the Special Olympics was a very rewarding experience. I am looking forward to next year and expanding the program in the years to come.”