Local students participate in Special Olympics program

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Students from around Hampton Roads took part in a Special Olympics program Friday.

The event is called Little Feet Meet, and for the past eight weeks 300 pre-K through 6th grade students and special needs students have trained for the athletic event.

Director of Sports for Special Olympics Virginia Debbie Apperson said the meet is the culminating event of the inclusive sports program.

More than 100 volunteers from the Navy, Coast Guard, local police departments and other Hampton Roads students helped run the games.

"It's a great feeling, I really don't have words for it. To stand and watch those kids get off the bus this morning and walk into the stadium and see the expressions on their faces - they are just so pleased to have the support, and I am just so pleased to be a part of it and pleased to be asked to participate in it because it is really a great feeling to make that connection with the young," said Portsmouth Sheriff Michael Moore.

Participants competed in several different sporting events, and the students even had a hero's welcome onto the track and field.

Organizers hope the event sparks relationships between students and special needs students  once they are back in school.

"What we hope is when they go back to their classrooms after today is over that they really built some bonds of genuine friendship," said Margaret Grant, a special needs teacher at Wilson High School. "That's what we want. It's not just about today, it's what carries them on in the rest of their educational career and hopefully into adulthood."