The Copperas Cove High School Special Olympics team has won the state championship and now qualifies for the national games in Florida.
The team was formed in 2020, and is "is comprised of students who qualify for special education services and students enrolled in general education classes," according to the high school. Last year the team won the regional championship and won fourth place at the state contest.
“Having a unified team made up of both special education and general education students was so much more than I had anticipated,” said LeeAnn Jones, Kelsey’s mother. “They are truly unified and integrated together throughout the entire season. I was able to witness such heartwarming moments between Kelsey and her teammates this season. They cared more about Kelsey and helping her than their own attempts. Her smile was radiant."
Senior Kelsey Jones' first few throws were disqualified because of the athlete’s form.
"Two other students on the team who are enrolled in general education classes calmed Jones and coached her in between their own turns throwing the shotput," said the high school. "Jones threw the shotput correctly and her distance counted for the team. The students broke into cheers, hugging Jones, and giving her high-fives of congratulations."
The team is coached by special education teachers Renee Moore and Jamie Cruz and paraprofessional Karon Todd, according to the school.
“Seeing my son compete with other students with all different abilities makes me very proud,” said Kelly Echevarria, Freshman Giovanni Echeveria's mother. “Special Olympics has benefited my son in many aspects of his life including socialization with other young men and women, confidence, and just pure success.”