Raising Funds, Raising Spirits – FHSD Schools Support Special Olympics

Posted on 11/16/2017
Raising Funds, Raising Spirits – FHSD Schools Support Special Olympics

Every fundraiser that students and staff in the Francis Howell School District participate in is special, but some tug at our heartstrings more than others. FHSD has its own Special Olympics program, which gives kids with different abilities the opportunity to experience the thrill of victory. It’s not just about victory, though. It’s about being a part of a team and gaining a better understanding of one’s self – an understanding that with a little help, we all can achieve in ways we never knew possible.

The FHSD Special Olympics help to change lives for the better, but it relies on the support of those who care. Fortunately, the FHSD community is a caring one. The organization’s director, Joe Shaw, who is also the assistant principal at John Weldon Elementary, knows they can’t help kids like they do without the support of the community. “Francis Howell Special Olympics is funded through generous donations from the Francis Howell community families,” Shaw said. “The money raised is used to pay for equipment, uniforms, and to help families pay for activities in which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate.” This linked video demonstrates the positive effect the program, and the community that supports it, have on these students.

Two elementary schools in FHSD recently showed their support for FHSD Special Olympics as well. Castlio and Harvest Ridge Elementary Schools presented checks for $552 and $1,015.51, respectively. Castlio Principal Dr. Bridgett Niedringhaus explained how her school raised funds for this worthy cause. “We sold bracelets that said ‘See the able, not the label’ for $1 each to students and staff at Castlio.” They also found a way to add a personal touch. “Students in the (Special Education) department at Castlio filled the orders and delivered them to the classrooms.”

Harvest Ridge Principal Dr. Natalie DeWeese explained how they were able to raise so much. “Student Council decided to do a spirit week to get the whole school involved,” Dr. DeWeese said, “visiting all the classrooms to explain its importance. They decided on the dress-up days and decided that students would bring $1 a day to participate.”

These donations remind us that if the kids can help, so can we. “Castlio believes in supporting the FHSD Special Olympics,” Dr. Niedringhaus said, “because it is a great way for our students and their families to make a difference right here in our own community. Many former Castlio students have gone on to participate in the FHSD Special Olympics tournaments.”

Dr. DeWeese agrees – our students are inspiring us. “When our students come together to impact an organization in our community and in our District,” she said, “They get to see the importance of giving back. By working with Special Olympics, they learn the importance of supporting kids who attend Harvest Ridge that might participate in that event. Our students are very caring and nurturing to each other. Through this work, they get a better understanding of accepting differences and that all kids are good at something. Our students are very proud when they get to work together to impact others in a positive way.”

“I would like to personally thank Castlio and Harvest Ridge for their donations,” Shaw said, “and I want them to know that without their help, we wouldn’t be able to provide the same level of services.”

Even if you can’t give a donation, your support can be expressed by cheering these athletes on. Shaw said, “Our next event will be our annual basketball tournament held on Saturday, January 13, at Francis Howell Central High School. Basketball teams from throughout the area will be participating in the tournament.” Elementary students aren’t alone in their support, either. Older FHSD students support the program in a variety of ways. Shaw explained, “(FHSD) students of many ages will be donating their time to serve refreshments, keep score of the games, and serve as referees. It is truly a community event and the highlight of our year.” And it’s a program that highlights just how special this community is for all of us.

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