Hornell celebrates 10 years at the Special Olympics

Student athletes from the Hornell City School District had a joyous sendoff from their teachers and peers last Friday, as they excitedly left to participate in the annual Special Olympics Track and Field Spectacular held at Alfred State College.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of participating in the event, which began in 2013 with just over 100 athletes and has steadily grown in popularity over the years, reflecting a nationwide partnership between NCAA Division III and Special Olympics. Staffed by coaches, student-athletes, and volunteers, it has garnered numerous awards from the NCAA and The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) over the years.

“The first Friday in May has become an unshakeable tradition for me, just as important as the original Special Olympics event. It’s an incredible event, one I wouldn’t miss for the world,” said Hornell Superintendent Jeremy Palotti. 

This year’s event welcomed 288 athletes representing 14 school districts competing in both a running and a field event, with running distances ranging from 24 to 400 meters. 

A total of 50 student athletes from Hornell, ranging in age from kindergarten through grade 12 and young adults up to age 21 participated and everyone received ribbons in recognition of their efforts.

Hornell students proudly wore uniform shirts designed collaboratively by Hornell High School sophomore Derek Hall and juniors Charles Lurcock and Richard Gardner. They were generously donated with funds raised by Hornell sports nights. 

The day’s festivities commenced with an Olympic-style parade by each team, followed by the recitation of the Special Olympics Oath.

The Hornell City School District’s continued participation in the Alfred State Special Olympics exemplifies its commitment to inclusivity, community connections, and fostering a positive athletic experience for all students.

“Witnessing the combined dedication of students, faculty, staff, and parents –  all coming together to see our kids shine – brings tears to my eyes year after year,” said Mr. Palotti. “This event fills me with an immense sense of pride in the collective effort we put forth.”