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Special Olympics 2016

October 6, 2016

ISABELA PALMIERI

Staff Writer |  ipa001@latech.edu

 

Special Olympics athletes participate in field day at Louisiana Tech.

 

Louisiana Tech cheerleader Savannah Dorking aids in field day activities. Photo by Brian Blakely.

Louisiana Tech cheerleader Savannah Dorking aids in field day activities. Photo by Brian Blakely.

 

On Sept. 28, 2011, Seth Hanchey died twice.

 

After being struck from behind by a van while on a 60-mile bicycle ride, Seth Hanchey had to be airlifted to LSU Health Science Center Shreveport where he was not expected to live through the night.

 

“They said he’d never run, never speak, a lot of nevers,” said Kimber Hanchey, Seth’s mother. “A year later Seth ran a 5K.”

 

Five years after his traumatic brain injury, Hanchey is unexpectedly able to run on his own, talk and help his mother in the Special Olympics.

 

“I began to see the challenges of people with disabilities,” Kimber Hanchey said. “Not with them as much, but the way people treated them and the obstacles that were out there for them. Because of that it pushed me into a different arena in my life, and I call it purpose.”

 

Kimber Hanchey said she would not let anyone define what Seth Hanchey was capable or not capable of doing.

 

“I have fought to give Seth the opportunity to decide on his own what his limitations are,” she said. “Seth began to powerlift with a hand that was never ever supposed to open. We began small things, and Tech helped us a lot. They had a phenomenal attitude.”

 

Kimber Hanchey, the Special Olympics team management director, and Jessica Hughes, the PR coordinator, worked together to ensure the Special Olympics event ran smoothly on the morning of Sept. 30. The Special Olympics of Louisiana’s first annual field day brought together children and adults with intellectual disabilities and the Ruston community for a field day full of activities on Louisiana Tech’s campus.

 

Special Olympics athletes pose with Champ. Photo by Brian Blakely

Special Olympics athletes pose with Champ. Photo by Brian Blakely

“Ruston is a very small and unique community,” Hughes said. “We come together for a lot of different things. We need to show that we don’t discriminate against anything, that we have stuff for everyone and every walk of life.”

 

Timauris Nelson, a 17-year-old participant, said his favorite Field Day event was capture the flag.

 

“Oh, I just love it,” he said. “It was so spectacular. It was a lot of fun, and we just run and jump and we love it.”

 

Hughes said the field day helps the kids get ready for the full Special Olympics games in the spring. The kids spent most of the morning and early afternoon playing games like flag football, soccer and horseshoes.

Tech students and athletes bond during a field day game. Photo by Brian Blakely.

Tech students and athletes bond during a field day game. Photo by Brian Blakely.

“My favorite part is seeing the kids happy and running,” Hughes said. “Those kids get that normal feeling with us that they don’t get in a lot of places. And they get to participate in something that normally people don’t do, or that they can’t do.”

 

Hughes said the event makes the kids feel normal, which is important in their otherwise different daily lives.

 

“You can see it through this event that the kids get some of that normalcy,” she said. “They get to participate in this really cool field day that was made just for them, and it’s not something unattainable.”

 

Jenny Robertson, volunteer coordinator, said events like the Special Olympics Field Day help the kids in more ways than one.

 

“It helps the children grow socially and physically,” she said. “We have different children here from other schools who are also developing children and are acting with these kids. So it’s important because when they go out into the community they will recognize them, and that will make them socially accepted.”

 

Robertson said college volunteers can benefit from interacting with the children, and it helps merge the gap between them and kids with intellectual disabilities.

 

“Some of these students will be going into the school systems,” she said. “They will be teachers, or going into occupational therapy, or speech therapy, and this gives them hands-on experience. It also helps integrate society together, instead of being separate. We have so much separation, in schools, in community, and these kids can’t help what has happened to them.”

 

Jade Matthews, a senior biomedical engineering major and volunteer, worked with Kimber Hanchey and Robertson to help plan the event.

 

“This event shows the kids that we support them,” Matthews said. “Everyone being involved shows the kids that we are here for them no matter what and we aren’t going to treat them differently because they have disabilities.”

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