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Students wash cars for Special Olympics

POSTED: April 17, 2013 12:28 a.m.
Alyssa LaRenzie/

Rachael Waldrop, a senior at South Forsyth High, washes a car Saturday at Burger King on Ronald Reagan Boulevard. Students from all five local public high schools raised funds for Special Olympics.

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The Soak and Scrub Car Wash Challenge, a competition involving the five local public high schools, raised more than $8,500 for Forsyth County Special Olympics.

Students in both special and regular education programs came together Saturday to wash cars and raise money for the cause.

Each school held its respective car wash at a different location in the county. All students came together at day’s end to see which school raised the most money, taking home a trophy and bragging rights.

Susan Darlington, transition coordinator for the Forsyth County school system, said it was inspiring to see the students work together for Special Olympics.

“It was just so heartwarming to know that everybody would spend a full Saturday,” she said, noting that the athletes in particular were touched by the efforts.

“I think just the whole community experience and being with their friends … it just made their day.”

Peggy Franken, who had the idea for the car wash, said the goal was to see each high school raise at least $1,000. All but Lambert went well over that mark, and the Longhorns came close, with about $900.

West Forsyth raised the most, at nearly $3,000, while South Forsyth came in second with a little more than $1,800. North Forsyth and Forsyth Central each raised close to $1,700.

Darlington said the Special Olympic athletes enjoyed spending time with their regular education friends, many of whom will serve as “buddies” Friday during the Special Olympics Spring Games at Central.

Darlington said the annual games, which begin with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., will feature more than 300 athletes from throughout the county’s elementary, middle and high schools.

They compete in a range of events, including relay races, sprints, jumps and ball throws.

In addition, more than 350 regular education high school students volunteer as “buddies” for the games, helping guide the athletes to events and cheering them on.

“There’s so much to say about the young people in our community when you see them working side by side with our athletes,” Darlington said. “They take on a great deal of responsibility and you just see maturity develop with them as they just envelope the athletes with a lot of safety and just watch over them, but also cheer them on and encourage them.”

The spring games are open to the public. For anyone who hasn’t been to the games, there’s nothing like them, according to Darlington.

“It’s probably the most rewarding experience that you will have just to be able to watch the smiles on the athletes’ faces as they run across the finish line or as they’re standing up at the podium,” she said.

 

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