"I'm Proud of Them": Special Olympics Team Impresses in Debut

A member of the District 401 Special Olympics team displays his skills at the Dec. 7 basketball event in Hoffman Estates.

Gevryel, an Elm student and member of the District 401 Special Olympics team, competes in the shooting portion of the Dec. 7 basketball event in Hoffman Estates. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)


Four members of District 401's first Special Olympics team participated Dec. 7 in the squad's debut event, a basketball skills competition at Eisenhower Junior High School in Hoffman Estates.

Each of the team members earned a medal in their respective divisions. 

The event, sponsored by Special Olympics Illinois, consisted of the participants testing their skills in spot shooting, target passing and timed dribbling.

The D401 contingent featured one student from Elm Middle School and three from Elmwood Park High School. Congrats to the following team members:

  • Gevryel from Elm, who competed in Division M03. He earned a second-place medal. 
  • Ari from EPHS, who competed in Division F04. She earned a second-place medal.
  • Aurora from EPHS, who competed in Division F05. She earned a fourth-place medal.
  • Luis from EPHS, who competed in Division M13. He earned a second-place medal.

In addition, a fifth team member — Jonathan from EPHS — attended the event in support of his teammates and received a player development ribbon.

Three other team members practiced with the rest of the squad in the weeks leading up to the competition: Alexis and Sophia from EPHS, and Gio from John Mills Elementary School.

The team is coached by Ms. Kelly Swindler, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who works with the special education staffs at John Mills and the Early Childhood Center, and Mr. Jason Friesl, a SPED paraprofessional who works with the District's transition program at EPHS.

"I would just hope that they feel proud of themselves and that they realize trying something new isn’t scary," Ms. Swindler said after the event. "With practice, they’ve all developed new skills and new friends, and I hope they all feel really good about what they did." 

Added Mr. Friesl: "They should feel a tremendous amount of pride, because this is definitely not the easiest thing to do right off the bat. I’m proud of them, and they should be proud of themselves. too."

For more information about the District's Special Olympics program, please click here. Next up for the team: track and field in the spring!


Photos from the Basketball Skills Competition 


NOTE: The following photos were taken at the Special Olympics Illinois basketball skills competition held Dec. 7 at Eisenhower Junior School in Hoffman Estates. They are a sample of what can be found in our photo gallery of the event, which can be found here. All photos are by Dave Porreca, D401 web/media specialist. Click any image for a larger view.


District 401 student competes in the Special Olympics basketball skills event.

PHOTO: Gevryel from Elm. He placed second in Division M03. Click image for larger view.


Ari from EPHS competes in the Special Olympics Illinois basketball skills event.

PHOTO: Ari from EPHS. She placed second in Division F04. Click image for larger view.


Aurora from EPHS competes in the Special Olympics Illinois basketball skills event.

PHOTO: Aurora from EPHS. She placed fourth in Division F05. Click image for larger view.


Luis from EPHS competes in the Special Olympics Illinois basketball skills event.

PHOTO: Luis from EPHS. He placed second in Division M13. Click image for larger view.


Jonathan from EPHS displays his player development ribbon that he received at the Special Olympics Illinois basketball skills event.

PHOTO: Jonathan from EPHS displays his player development ribbon. Click for larger view.


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