Kids, adults compete for the gold at Goshen High School's game day

    Goshen High School teachers and students volunteered to make the day of races, long jumps and other activities extra special.

    Posted on May 20, 2014 at 2:35 p.m. | Updated on May 20, 2014 at 4:48 p.m.

    GOSHEN — These Olympic games have winners just like the real thing, but contestants are smiling even before medals are awarded.

    Goshen High School hosted Functional Skills Olympic Day for the second year on Tuesday, May 20, inviting special-needs students and adults from several area schools to compete in races, long jumps and other activities.

    Volunteers said the participants enjoy being involved in something they have the ability to do.

    “Some kids, I think, don’t think they can do anything,” Kristy Nissly, paraprofessional for Goshen schools, said. “This accomplishment means so much so them.”

    Student volunteers Evan Smith and Jaron Katzer, both seniors at Goshen, noticed that too as they supervised the basketball free throw event.

    "Even when they don’t make it they are having so much fun just shooting the ball,” Katzer said. “I was nervous going into (the event) but it’s not that hard.”

    Both boys also help with Goshen’s weightlifting class for students with disabilities. Katzer said getting to know students in the class has made him more comfortable with getting involved in other similar events such as Functional Skills Day.

    Goshen teacher and wrestling coach Jim Pickard helped organize the first Functional Skills Day last year after his son, Travis Pickard, had the idea. 

    This year, volunteers have changed a few little things to make things better and more fun for students, Pickard said. For example, tossing balloons scared some students last year so volunteers substituted beach balls this time around.

    “The biggest thing is to make these kids feel special,” Pickard said. 

    Each event has a gold, silver and bronze winner, but every person at the event Tuesday received a participation medal. Participants also got lunch and T-shirts.

    The event is heavily supported by the community, Pickard said  — local businesses helped out by donating the medals, T-shirts and other items.

    Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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