High School Students Relay with Special Olympics Athletes

High School Students Relay with Special Olympics Athletes
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“Let’s go Dev, let’s go!”

Carl Junction High School senior Kaden Brannin cheers on his fellow teammate Devin Wichman who has autism.

“It’s really rewarding. It’s great to see the kids get excited when they see you, and it’s just good to give back,” says Brannin.

High School students from all across Southwest Missouri compete side by side with Special Olympic athletes making it more fun for all.

“It’s really fun with Kaden,” says Whitman.

The tournament not only helps Special Olympic athletes to gain confidence, but it also helps the high school athletes competing alongside them to grow.

“They have the opportunity to interact with our athletes and share their joy and share their victory and share their challenges,” says Carl Junction Superintendent and Chairman of the Board for Special Olympics Missouri.

And for many kids too shy to go out and play sports it helps them to open up and try new things.

“They get flustered sometimes, and you just got to keep them calm and keep going,” says Brannin.

By being surrounded by other kids with disabilities and with Kaden by his side, Devin says it makes him feel like he can fit in.

“With my autism, I feel confident in playing these sports.”

Devin won medals in shot put and long jump, but for both partners the experience is about more than going for the gold.

“Winning’s not everything. I mean just coming out and having a good time is the most important thing,” says Brannin.

About 500 Special Olympics athletes, high school students, and volunteers from about thirty different agencies competed in today’s games. The Southwest Missouri Area Tournament has been running close to 30 years.