Vineyard Special Olympians excel in Mashpee

Four athletes from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School competed in the fifth annual Special Olympics of Massachusetts South Sectional (SOMA) Cape Cod School Day Games, held at Mashpee High School last Friday.

Post graduate (PG) Celeste Ewing, junior Elke Klein, sophomore Austin Simonin, and freshman Paige Taylor joined more than 400 student athletes from schools throughout Southeastern Massachusetts for the event, which is the largest Special Olympics competition held on Cape Cod.

The Vineyard team is coached by MVRHS varsity field hockey coach and physical education teacher Lisa Knight and by life skills teacher Laura DeBettencourt.

The athletes, coaches, parents, and fans, two dozen people in all, boarded the 7 am ferry on a warm, sunny morning.

On their arrival, Mashpee High School students and volunteers lined up in front of the bus and greeted the Vineyard team with a rousing ovation.

The school has hosted the Special Olympics for the past five years. More than 150 students joined dozens of area volunteers to ensure that the games were a fun-filled success for all the participants.

MHS students Maddie Shinn, Chelsea Mullen, Allie D’Italia, and Mashpee Middle School student Emma McNally served as “meet-and-greet” escorts for the Vineyard team and assisted the athletes throughout the day.

MVRHS students Molly Ciciora, Molly Fischer, Rilla Hammett, Tayla Kuehne, and Amalie Tinus, swimming coach Robin Tuck, special education teacher Donna Bishop, and special education assistants Erin Mercer, Heather Tilton, and Heather Thurber also provided invaluable help and support.

The athletes participated in six events. Paige Taylor excelled in the football throw and ran the anchor leg in the relay event. The relay team finished the race in 28 seconds. Celeste Ewing was a standout in the softball throw and ran a strong 100 meters. Elke Klein and Austin Simonin finished first and second in the 50 meter run.

After completing their events, the team took a break for lunch and ice-cream and dressed up in colorful costumes for a photo session.

The Vineyarders then had to make a hasty exit to get back on-Island for a girls’ lacrosse playoff game. The Mashpee staff graciously allowed Celeste, Elke, Austin, and Paige to receive their medals first.

The Vineyard team received a roaring cheer from the crowd — the perfect ending to a great event.