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The Lancer Ledger

The Student News Site of Lakeland Regional High School

The Lancer Ledger

The Student News Site of Lakeland Regional High School

The Lancer Ledger

Celebrating All Athletes: 2024 Special Olympic Winter Games

Courtesy of @lakelandareainclusivesportsorg Instagram
Athlete Brian Radicchi winning a silver medal!

The 2024 New Jersey Special Olympics Winter Games began February 4 and stretched to February 27, with many athletes from the Lakeland Regional High School community invited to participate.

Lakeland had a great turn out at this year’s games with many student athletes, Unified partners, and alumni in attendance and excitedly participating. Special Olympics New Jersey employee with ties to LRHS, Ms. Katie Telschow told the Ledger the games are filled with “magical moments” and irreplaceable memories for everyone involved.

LRHS made a name for themselves in Unified sports. In the Unified “Queens Relay,” Lakeland Unified partner and freshman Mia Bozan and alumni Jackie Scharr won second place. Later, LRHS saw more success with the Unified “Lancers Relay,” where alumni Maddie Cutri, senior Unified athlete Rolando Sanchez, and junior Unified partners Emily Kebrdle and Clarissa Kuhn also won second place. In the traditional “Knights Relay,” alumni Ian Garcia and Lakeland Unified athletes senior Brian Radicchi and alumni Kyle Woodruff were awarded second place as well.

The team having a fun time during snow shoeing. (Courtesy of @lakelandareainclusivesportsorg Instagram)

Individually, the Lancers had a great showing as well. In addition to the traditional relay, Radicchi ran the 200 meter and 400 meter races, and was awarded third place in the 400 meter. Sanchez ran in the Unified relay alongside the 200 meter and 400 meter races, and also won third place. Woodruff participated in the traditional relay, 200 meter race, and 400 meter race, winning third place in the 200 meter. These three Lancers made our Lakeland family proud and were coached to success by special education teacher Ms. Karen McCormack.

Many student and staff alumni were present at the games, as well. Ms. Patricia Telschow, former teacher at LRHS, played a significant role as a coach for many of the events. Other alumni were in attendance, too, including Garcia, who participated in the Traditional Relay, 200 meter race, and the 400 meter race; Jett Padovano, who also took part in the 200 meter race, as well as the 100 meter; and Jackie Scharr in the Unified Relay, 200 meter race, and 400 meter race.

Some of our Lakeland unified partners cheering on the athletes. (Courtesy of @lakelandareainclusivesportsorg Instagram)

The Special Olympic games have many different ceremonies to celebrate our athletes. One such event is the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Games. During the ceremony, the torch is skied down the mountain before the Flame of Hope. The torch is used to light the cauldron and attending athletes, coaches, partners, volunteers, and more erupt in applause to begin the games. The opening ceremony is followed by fireworks and the dance party, which according to Ms. McCormack are “always favorites for the athletes.”

The New Jersey Special Olympics has positively changed the lives of many. As a nonprofit organization that originated in 1968, they strive to provide training to both child and adult athletes with a vast variety of disabilities to improve their physical abilities, confidence, and overall wellness. The organization also provides athletes with leadership and friendship opportunities. Worldwide, the Special Olympics has reached over 5.7 million participants and has Unified Sports teams in 172 countries.

The Lakeland Area Special Olympics Team before the games begin. (Courtesy of @lakelandareainclusivesportsorg Intstagram)

The support from Lakeland and the surrounding communities is valuable and allows our area to have one of these incredible teams. The ability to send Unified partners to the New Jersey State Games is not something everyone has the opportunity to do, and the team hopes to see this commitment to sending Unified partners from Ringwood, Wanaque, Haskell, and LRHS in the future. Another way to become involved with these programs is by joining the Unified Club at Lakeland. This club engages in many Unified activities, cheers the team on during events, and is a great way to become involved.

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About the Contributors
Gabriella Cusmano
Gabriella Cusmano, Staff Writer
Gabriella Cusmano is a freshman at Lakeland Regional High School. As this is her first year in the journalism field, she is very excited to take on something new. Cusmano loves writing about sports, our community, and the entertainment industry. Outside of school, she enjoys running, watching sports, and hanging out with her friends. Cusmano is interested in the business & marketing field, and hopes to carry out her interests in the future.
Christiana Ranft
Christiana Ranft, Staff Writer
Christiana Ranft is a senior at LRHS and is a writer for the Lancer Ledger in Journalism 1. She enjoys reading and writing, and plans on pursuing an English major. Ranft hopes to expand her writing skills over the course of this class and share stories with the public.

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