Seventy-three student athletes from Ramona’s elementary, middle, and high schools competed with the help of over 30 peer tutors, volunteers, professional aides, and teachers. Awards were given. Medals were earned. Shirts were given. But more importantly thousands of hugs, high fives, and words of encouragement were given.
Absent from the event were the usual complaints that come from parents and spectators at most high school athletic events. Nobody yelled at a referee, umpire, or judge. Nobody complained about the coaching. Nobody contested the results of any of the track or field events. Nobody jeered.
Everybody cheered! When an athlete fell down in a race, everybody encouraged him to get up and finish and cheered when he did. Nobody mentioned or noticed that he finished last. What was important was not that he finished, but that he competed.
If an athlete could not perform an activity alone, the athlete got help. Nobody complained. Nobody cried foul. Everybody understood and accepted it. That is why they call it APE (adapted physical education).
Every athlete got a high five from the official starter, Connie Halfaker, before every race. Every athlete got an “atta-boy or atta-girl” after every race and field event.
Every auction item was sold. Only one volunteer, Diana Benke, used strong arm tactics trying to sell items. The tactics worked as bidders upped the antes with a smile. All of the proceeds will help students with disabilities enjoy recreational activities. This was an activity where the coaches raised money for the athletes and not where the athletes raised money for the coaches.
One prom date was secured.
A good time was enjoyed by all.
Important life lessons were learned.
It is a shame that some of the fans who attend other sporting events were not there. At some other athletic events, fans (short for fanatics) jeer officials, coaches, opposing players and, more alarmingly, some of their own players. Maybe those fans could learn to adapt as well as the APE athletes, volunteers, peer tutors, and staff do and cheer the efforts of the athletes.
There are no times to report. There are no records to report. There is only one statistic of importance. The 21st APE track and field meet was a win and everybody who competed and volunteered was a winner.