On February 15, Bloomingdale High School hosted its fourth annual Special Olympics field day event called the IncrediBull Games. The school hosted 15 schools from the eastern side of Hillsborough County.
About 335 athletes competed in track and field and soccer events. Donna Hart, ESE teacher at Bloomingdale, and Principal Sue Burkett were inspired by a similar event held at Gaither High School and wanted to do something comparable for the schools on the eastern side of the county to compete in as well.
“It’s a great school-wide event, and a way that everybody comes together to make everything happen for these athletes,” said Hart. “It’s just a great experience.”
Some of the schools that competed include Newsome, Armwood, Plant City, Durant, Riverview, East Bay, Lennard, Spoto, Brandon, Strawberry Crest, Burns Middle School, Giunta Middle School, Willis Peters Exceptional Center and Simmons Exceptional Center.
Students from different sports teams and clubs at Bloomingdale volunteered to help with the event. Hart said that there were about 15-20 different groups from the school that helped out. Every student (called a buddy) is paired up with an athlete, and they take them around to compete in their events. Several classes helped set up games and activities in the Olympic Village where athletes could hang out and have a fun time while they waited for their events.
According to Hart, about 450 students from Bloomingdale volunteered their time this year to put this on for the athletes. The next event will be held at the same time next year. They start planning for the event at the very beginning of the school year, and it takes about six months to get everything lined up and ready to go.
“The event is a time where our special athletes are able to be included in a sporting event,” said Hart. “It gives the athletes and the students at Bloomingdale an opportunity to develop friendships, it’s a big inclusion event. The support that the partners and athletes show back and forth is probably the best thing of the school year for all of us. It’s something that everybody benefits from and looks forward to.”