Cardinal Gibbons Community Unites to Support Special Olympics Florida
Erin Herbert

Cardinal Gibbons High School welcomed over 250 athletes to the Dr. Bud Tight Field on the school’s Fort Lauderdale campus for the Special Olympics Florida Broward County Games on Saturday, March 7. 

Broward County athletes spent, at a minimum, 10 weeks preparing for the Broward County Games, which featured competition in four sports: soccer, volleyball, bocce and cycling. 

A special olympian competes in bocce at the Broward County Summer Games.

 

Top-finishers from Saturday’s County Games are now eligible to advance to the Area Games, where they will compete against other athletes from Miami-Dade and Monroe counties for a spot at the State Summer Games, which will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, May 15-16, 2020. Because 2020 is a qualifying year, athletes can use these competitions as a springboard to the Special Olympics 2022 USA Games, which will also be held in Orlando. 

The day’s festivities kicked off with an Olympic-style opening ceremony, as athletes and coaches, led by the Knights of Columbus Color guard and the Cardinal Gibbons Marching Band, paraded onto the field.

Friends, family members, volunteers, sponsors and community members filled the stands and surrounded the field, as they welcomed the athletes with thunderous applause. 

Athletes, student volunteers and members of Broward Sheriff’s Office then took center stage, as they participated in the traditional running of the torch with the Special Olympics Flame of Hope.

Special Olympic athlete Steven holds the Olympic Torch next to Sheriff Gregory Tony

Rev. Ricardo Rivera led the crowd in prayer, prior to remarks from Cardinal Gibbons President Tom Mahon.

Mahon spoke of how honored he was to have the Cardinal Gibbons community supporting Special Olympic Florida and the athletes present for the Broward County Summer Games. “We are proud to be with the athletes today,” he said. “Thank you for allowing us to share in their achievements.”

Cardinal Gibbons has proudly hosted the Broward County Games for the last five years, and it has become a favorite community event amongst students and faculty alike. While addressing the Cardinal Gibbons faculty and staff prior to Saturday’s festivities, Mike Morrill, athletic director, said, “Hosting the Special Olympics is really one of the best things we do here at Cardinal Gibbons.”

Each year, more and more of Cardinal Gibbons students have made the Special Olympics a priority in their community outreach plans. This year, over 70 students volunteered their time to help the Special Olympics athletes have the time of their lives. “We are overwhelmed by the volunteer engagement we see from the Cardinal Gibbons student body every year,” said Linsey Smith, vice president of Communications and South Florida Operations for Special Olympics Florida. “Today would not be possible without the support of our volunteers.”