Diana Hill is a Special Education teacher at Wilmington High School and a co-organizer of the Wilmington and Burlington Unified School Day Games which typically happens each spring. Unfortunately due to Covid- 19 the School Day Games, which would have celebrated its fourth year, was cancelled.
Although Hill was at home and not organizing the event for her students, she still wanted to find a way to be involved with Special Olympics. When the Run, Bike, Walk program was announced in July she jumped on board and has already surpassed her $1,000 fundraising goal!
"I love this organization and also liked the idea of being held accountable for exercising by publicly posting my training runs and races, so I signed up for the event," she said. "I think it's exactly what I've needed during this pandemic where nothing really has a timeline or a deadline."
The Run, Bike, Walk program is a way for anyone to join a virtual community of others who are running, biking or walking at home. Although there won't be any in-person races this year, participants can compete in virtual 5ks and bike rides each month while raising money for Special Olympics and earning incentives along the way. Learn more or register at specialolympicsma.org/runbikewalk.
Hill first became aware of Special Olympics when she found a Special Olympics jacket in her grandfather's closet and asked him about it.
"He told me about the Special Olympics, but kind of beat around the bush about his involvement," she said. "Years down the road, I did finally learn that he volunteered with the local school's Special Olympics alpine ski team in the winter!"
Years later as a teacher in Wilmington, Hill attended the Lawrence School Day Games with her students. When they returned home, Hill and a coworker went to their superintendent asking if they could host the same kind of event in Wilmington and were met with enthusiasm.
"In order to include the most number of students as possible, our event encompasses students in the district in grades K through post grads," Hill explains.
Using a nine-station rotation model, every student participates in every activity. Middle and High School athletes and partners compete in a track & field event to earn medals, and all elementary students receive participation medals.
These events are Unified meaning they involve individuals with and without disabilities, which is something Hill likes about the School Day Games.
"I love the Unified model and being able to see the camaraderie between athletes and their partners. They are so supportive of each other. It's also really wonderful to witness the leadership skills of our wonderful student volunteers. They do a fantastic job working with the competitors and being respectful of their needs."
If you want to get involved or stay involved during this time at home, you can register for our virtual fundraising events or even create your own! Learn more and register at specialolympicsma.org/fundraisewithus