Spring Games celebrate achievements, local athletes
By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Chaney Scott
Throwing a softball, running around a track, or playing games with friends might not seem like anything out of the ordinary. But for students in the Tuscaloosa County School System’s Special Education program, it’s cause for a celebration.
More than 150 athletes competed at TCSS’s annual Spring Games for special needs students. Middle and high schoolers competed the first day, and elementary schoolers on the second.
More than 100 volunteers showed up to support the athletes, serving as peer buddies or cheering from the stands at Tuscaloosa County High School’s Wildcat Stadium.
The event works similar to a track meet, featuring eight stations including shot put, javelin, softball throwing and a track event. Athletes using wheelchairs were offered the same events.
Sherri Childers is the grandmother of an eighth grader with special needs. They’ve attended this event and cheered on their grandchild before, but this is the first year after her husband’s loss. Despite her grief, Childers said she knows her husband would have adored seeing how grand the competition is this year.
“I saw a lot of races, and you could tell they were having so much fun,” Childers said. “They had smiles on their faces and the whole crowd was chanting their names. That’s what’s important,” said Childers.
Her grandson’s favorite event is the softball throw, she said.
Music from drums and trumpets filled the air as high school marching bands played in the stands. Football and baseball players, other athletes and the Eagle mascot all stood on the sidelines cheering on the participants and offering advice.
“There’s no difference with our child than (someone else’s),” Childers said. “They’re all children, but they may learn a different way. They love to play and they love each other. It’s important for kids to love each other regardless.”
Nina Graham serves as the coordinator for special education for TCSS. She said she has always had a heart for students with disabilities and wishes more people do the same.
Graham helped plan the event, including the awards ceremony afterward. Athletes clapped and smiled when their names were called, but cheered even louder when rooting for their friends.
“This day gave these kids a chance to shine,” Grham said. “Everyone’s a champion today.”