BURLINGTON, Vt. - Special Olympics Vermont opened its Summer Games on Friday with unified bocce tournaments at Virtue Field on the campus of the University of Vermont.
Unified sports joins students of all ages, with and without intellectual disabilities, to compete in a variety of athletic competitions and games. Nearly 80 schools in Vermont offer unified sport opportunities.
Virtue Field hosted athletes and their unified teammates from 26 different elementary, middle, and high schools from around the state.
Grace Brooks, a student at BFA-St. Albans, was named the Unified Partner of the Year due to her participation and commitment to unified sports. She competed with Marleigh Lamothe, an athlete from BFA-St. Albans, in the unified bocce tournament.
"We've been practicing bocce and we've been building team-bonding basically and it's just about having fun," Brooks said.
Lamothe on the other hand, was a bit more focused on the competition.
"Today I like to play bocce because I love to win."
No matter the objective for the day, athletes and their partners shared smiles, medals, and popsicles on the warm afternoon.
Special Olympics Vermont president and CEO Sue Minter was thrilled to see an increase in participation from last year to this year's games.
"What I love seeing is when partner and athlete come together and really break down barriers that really separate groups, especially people with disabilities," Minter explained.
Special Olympics Vermont continues through Saturday and concludes Sunday afternoon.
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games take place in Seattle, W.A. July 1-6.
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