The sky’s the limit for kids at Middletown Special Olympics

Organizers of Middletown’s Special Olympics reinforced the idea Friday that the sky is the limit for special needs student as skydivers glided down and hundreds of people cheered during the event’s opening ceremony.

It was one of the biggest crowds – estimated at more than 400 – for the annual event at Middletown High School; 125 students participated in track events while dozens more joined in a pre-games parade around the track.

Hundreds of student volunteers – many of them also mentors to Middletown special needs students – joined school parents, city officials and city residents for the Olympic-like games.

“This is a really good crowd,” said Destini Burns, spokeswoman for the Middletown Schools.

“This event is bringing in kids from all across our district, and it’s showing our community … just how much we support them and care about them,” said Burns.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries.

Special Olympics competitions are held every day, all around the world — including local, national and regional competitions, adding up to more than 94,000 events a year.

Besides the first-ever appearance by skydivers, the event also featured a mini-Olympic flame, the Middletown High School marching band, informational booths and an awards ceremony at the end of the games.

“It kind of gets you a little teary eyed,” said Robbie Henry, parent of two Middletown special needs children. “This is really something different and a good way to show support for the kids.”

Sam Ison, superintendent of Middletown Schools, said expanding the event to inviting all school and community members is part of the “inclusive nature of this event.”

“It supports our special needs kids and brings a greater awareness and acceptance of individuals,” said Ison.

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