Special Olympics Delaware’s hoop skills event nets many smiling faces

GEORGETOWN – Success of Special Olympics Delaware’s basketball skills competition is not necessarily measured in the number of baskets made, passing accuracy or dribbling duration.

It’s measured in smiles.

And there were plenty happy faces Wednesday during the Special Olympics Delaware Sussex County Elementary Skills Competition hosted by Sussex Technical High School.

Alejandra Martinez-Ortiz, among the athletes from Howard T. Ennis School in Georgetown, flashed an ear-to-ear grin after snagging a bounce pass with some coaching from Ennis School special education teacher Danny Milam. She earned a silver medal.

Another Ennis School participant was Colt Clobes, who is deaf and blind and recently broke his foot, which was in a cast as he participated from a wheelchair.

“He wouldn’t miss this,” said Corinne Elliott, teacher for the deaf and blind at the Ennis School. “He wanted to come here today.”

Ennis teammate Akiera Walker was flushed with joy after striking gold as a medalist in dribbling, encouraged by numerous coaches, parents and Sussex Tech student volunteer Mackenzie Bender.

“It makes my heart truly happy. When I see them smile, I smile, but I think my smile is even bigger than theirs is,” said Sussex Tech senior Libby Baird, who collaborated with Caroline Maull, the school’s supervisor for Special Olympics and the Project Unified group, on Tech’s side of planning for the event.

For many years, Sussex Tech has served as the staging host for SODE’s basketball skills event. About 50 students in Sussex Tech’s athletic healthcare/physical therapy technical pathway served as volunteers as well as unified partners.

“It is Sussex Tech’s honor, pleasure and privilege to host such an outstanding event here today. I would like to add myself that it is a personal blessing to see our students serving and giving. It blesses me to see that,” said Sussex Tech administration member John Marvel. “It is the vision of Special Olympics Delaware to unlock the joy of sports, to inspire people to unite in a warm, welcoming world.”

The Dec. 13 event was the sixth of nine SODE basketball skills events statewide.

Marquis Troy-Danso reads the Special Olympics Oath. Unified partner Hannah Zimmerman and Jon Buzby of Special Olympics Delaware tune in.

“At end of all nine more 2,000 students from around the state of Delaware that will have participated in basketball, one of our most popular sports,” said SODE communications director Jon Buzby. “Today, there are more than 220 of you here celebrating the culmination of your basketball season.”

In keeping with tradition, the event featured the ceremonial Flame of Hope. The torch was carried into the gymnasium by Delaware State Police Cpl. Ricky Hargis, flanked by several other state troopers and a representative of the city of Milford police department.

At center-stage, Special Olympics athlete Mimi Winder from West Seaford Elementary and Cpl. Hargis teamed to hold the torch.

The torch symbolizes “year-long efforts by Delaware’s law enforcement community to support Special Olympics by providing volunteers, public awareness and needed financial support needed for Special Olympics,” Mr. Buzby said.

The Special Olympics Oath was delivered by Marquis Troy-Danso, accompanied by unified partner Hannah Zimmerman.

Tech junior Kat Feezle offered her spirited rendition of the National Anthem, flanked by Sussex Tech’s Army Junior ROTC color guard.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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