Special Olympics

Special Olympics Transforms Lives
Posted on 05/04/2022

Special Olympics Transforms Lives
By: Robin Friedrich

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” This oath is heard by athletes in Mexico Public Schools after every practice and before every event. These athletes come together in three different seasons to develop their skills and showcase their abilities. They are part of a community that has 16,900 athletes in Missouri. They are the Special Olympics athletes. 

In the spring of 2011, Jessica Nunan and another special education teacher brought back the program with 3 athletes from the middle school participating in track. She has been the Special Olympics Head Coach for 8 years. Alongside Coach Nunan, there are several MPS staff that volunteer their time to help with the athletes. 

Mexico Public School’s Special Olympics Team is composed of 30 athletes from ages 8 to 18. We also have 9 students who participate in the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. This is an early childhood program for children ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes are introduced to basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing during track season. 

In the fall, athletes learn all about the game of bowling. They practice at Mexico Lanes two times a week and participate in a tournament in Columbia. During winter, athletes practice their dribbling and shooting skills on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Eugene Field. They then show off their skills at a Special Olympics event. Finally, in the spring, athletes practice their running, long jump and softball throwing skills twice a week at the high school track. They then get to participate in 3 different track meets across Missouri. This year the track meets are Saturday, April 23rd in Columbia, Friday, May 6th in Hermann, and Friday, May 13th in Wright City. 

Coach Nunan says, “Track is by far the most popular sport, due in part to the fun field trips they get to take and the fact that they have buddies from the high school tag along with us. It is a great opportunity for the athletes to hang out with their peers, experience success and have a day of fun that is all about them.” 

This year we have one high school student going to a sports camp at the end of June in Jefferson City. At that camp they offer a wide variety of events for athletes of all ages and work very hard to promote lifelong health, fitness and other opportunities for our athletes.  

Sitting at a Special Olympic Track Meet, one can feel the energy from the volunteers, coaches, high school buddies, and the athletes. As the athletes get called up to receive their medal you see a smile on their face as they raise their arms in triumph, because for one day it really is all about them! The Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere.