Special Olympics bocce tournament builds lifelong friendships

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Friday, October 21, 2022
Special Olympics bocce tournament builds lifelong friendships
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Delaware schools leveled the playing field today for students of all abilities to compete in the sport of bocce.

NEW CASTLE, Delaware (WPVI) -- "I just can't believe this. I'm actually going in a Special Olympics game playing with other people," said Hezikiah Rich. "This is going to be the funnest day of my life."

Rich, a senior at William Penn High School, had the chance to compete alongside his best buddy, Brandon Eldridge, today. It was part of the Colonial School District's partnership with the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program.

The program cycles through different sports in different seasons. Today's bocce tournament was just the first of what will become an annual tradition at the Colonial School District.

"This year, we are in every school district but three," said Nate Threatts, Manager of Unified Champion Schools for Special Olympics Delaware. "So, we're hoping to make this our next varsity sport at the high school level and we're planning on doing this next year with every school district in the state."

Today's event brought together three area schools, William Penn High, George Read Middle, and Southern Elementary, to clash in a battle of bocce. But for some students, the score was only part of the story.

"It's not no, like, competition stuff," said Brandon Eldridge. "So, it's all about taking your turns, just being positive, and if you lose, that's fine."

Eldridge and Rich's teacher, Luke Wittenbach, was proud of his students today. He hopes to expand the program in the future.

"We'd love to be able to fill up the whole stadium with special ed students to get to participate in the tournament," he said.

To learn more about Unified Champion Schools or Special Olympics Delaware, visit their websites.

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