Donate to The Hudson Independent
Community News
Rivertowns Sports

Sleepy Hollow Special Olympians Bring Home Gold

• Bookmarks: 53

September 3, 2015

A few years ago, Kim Kaczmarek, Sleepy Hollow High School’s Special Education teacher and Pioneer team coach, began a program to get her students more involved in athletics within the school.  Back then, no-one predicted the huge positive force that this program would become.   

Kaczmarek’s Pioneer Team is a group of her special education students, along with other student interns (unified partners) from the high school, who play various sports together nearly every day.  Kaczmarek also helps organize the regional Special Olympics, a community wide event in which disabled athletes from all over the Hudson Valley come to compete together, with huge crowds of supporters watching. Thanks to this success students from Kaczmarek’s Pioneer Team were invited to the Special Olympics World Games this summer in Los Angeles.

Sleepy Hollow’s team, which played in the Olympics basketball events, was a combination team of students from Sleepy Hollow and Brewster, with both athletes and unified partners. From Sleepy, the participating athletes were Felix Veloz and Min Li, along with unified partners Hunter Burnett and Brendan Murphy.  From Brewster, the athletes were Tim Schneider, Stephen Booth, and Kevin Green, accompanied by partners John Ashley, Jagger Ashley, and Yash Patel. The team has been working tirelessly for the past year to prepare for the World Games, which had athletes from 170 countries. Their hard work paid off when they went unbeaten through the tournament and took home the gold medal in basketball.

But to the team and coaches, the glory does not lie only in their awards received.  The athletes and interns had a chance to compete in a world stage of athletics, where they represented Sleepy Hollow and the United States with pride and integrity, and showcased the inclusion that our community works hard to inspire and protect. 

“They are all so bonded now, that they don’t want the team to dismantle,” said Kaczmarek, who refers to her unified team, the Special Olympics USA NY Unified Basketball team, as a family.

The Special Olympics World Games is the pinnacle of the Special Olympic movement Many residents of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown became familiar with this program thanks to the regional Special Olympics events, which were hosted by Sleepy Hollow in 2013 and 2014.  The Special Olympic celebrates athletes and athletic performance for those who may suffer a mental or physical disability. The Pioneer Team at Sleepy Hollow is one of the most successful teams in the area, and it has gained enormous recognition over the years—with support from the high school student body—a support rivaling that of the football or soccer team. It’s a program that promotes equal opportunity to any student who is willing to put in the effort, and encourages school-wide inclusion with the intern program that has drawn dozens of volunteers over the last few years. 

“The games included athletes from 170 countries, some of whom may be in conflict in the outside world, but at the World Games everyone gets along, no matter what,” Kaczmarek said. “Politics doesn’t matter. I wish the world could be like this!”

Read or leave a comment on this story...

Andrea Martone - Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow real estate agent

Apartment Plan Near Tarrytown Train Station to Include More Affordable Units

By Rick Pezzullo--- The developer of a multi-family rental project proposed at 29 South Depot Plaza in Tarrytown has agreed...
Read More

Sleepy Hollow Trustee Race Gets Crowded

By Barrett Seaman— There are three open seats up for grabs in the March 19th election for the Sleepy Hollow...
Read More

Monster Mash

Monster Mash: When you bring the dead back to life By Krista Madsen– I have a confession to make that will get...
Read More

Annual Polar Plunges Raise $90K for Worthy Causes

By Rick Pezzullo--- Dozens of brave souls recently stripped down to take a dip in the frigid Hudson River for...
Read More

Irvington Police Crack String of Auto Burglaries

By Barrett Seaman— A recent string of thefts from unlocked cars, mainly on Dogwood and Sycamore in Irvington, had yielded...
Read More

Harrison to Retire from Irvington School District

By Rick Pezzullo---- Dr. Kristopher Harrison, who has led the Irvington School District for the last 12 years, is retiring...
Read More

Redistricting Commission Proposes (Not-So) New Map

By Barrett Seaman--- After months of hearings and internal deliberations, the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission (NYIRC), led by...
Read More

Five Champion Wrestlers Put Sleepy Hollow on the Map

By Tom Pedulla-- Silas Corveddu had done well merely to reach the Section 1 Division 2 championships on Feb. 10...
Read More

Masters Boys Basketball Is Earning Respect

By Tom Pedulla-- If it takes a tooth or two for The Masters School to continue its ascent in boys’...
Read More

TEENSCAPE 2024 – 7th & 8th Grade Summer Travel Camp

TEENSCAPE is a travel camp for current 7th & 8th graders. The program includes two sessions that are varied enough...
Read More
53 recommended
bookmark icon