In the end, the scoreboard read 49-34 with victory for the home team, but it didn't seem to matter for either the Sumner/Bonney Lake Special Olympics basketball team or the visiting team from Franklin Pierce.
Though Pack the Gym Wednesday night was centered around a basketball game, it was all about celebrating the 35 special athletes who took to the court and through their courage brought the community together to rally behind them.
And though tied to Special Olympics, this wasn't about fundraising, said Bonney Lake High School special education teacher and Special Olympics coach Shena Mouring who coordinated the event.
In line with the theme 'pack the gym,' this was about getting as many people to come out and support these athletes, she said. There was no admission fee though participants were encouraged to bring donations to support local food banks.
The half time program featured exciting performances by school drill teams as well as local dancers Chris and Starley Carrington along with the BX5 Crew and 3-year-old Micah Sampson, plus the crowning of BLHS spirit king and queen. The 'Miracle Minute' for collecting donations also netted $350, according to the event announcers.
The Sumner/Bonney Lake basketball team, who last year placed first in state at the Winter Games in Wenatchee, will be headed back to Wenatchee Friday for this year's competition.
Three individual athletes also qualified for state competitions in dribbling, passing and shooting, she said.
The games simulate the Olympic Games as much as possible including beginning with an opening ceremony in which teams march into a stadium carrying flags. "It's a great experience for them," Mouring said.
Special Olympics athletes are students with disabilities or special needs. All athletes are either current students within grades 6-12 or in the district’s Community Transition Program, designed to help these students “transition” out of the school and into a more independent lifestyle.
The program focuses on employment readiness, independent living skills, and other skills that students need to function and live more independently in the community. Students who have graduated from high school are eligible to participate in the program up to 22 years of age.
Several groups and individuals were recognized in the event program for their contributions as well:
- All of the athletes, coaches, student coaches and families of the student athletes
- Bonney Lake and Sumner high School cheerleaders and band
- Derek Lund and Thomas Davidson as student referees
- Sophomore class officers and their parents for working concessions
- Kazmyre Dorman, Haley Norris, and Maranda Ruby; leadership students at Bonney Lake High School
- Bonney Lake High School Drill Team
- Alex Walker and Alex Edeburn as event announcers