FHSD Special Olympics Basketball Tournament Offers Chance to Make a Difference

Posted on 01/12/2016

Opportunities – we can often take them for granted. The Francis Howell School District (FHSD) strives to give all students the same opportunities to succeed, whether it be academically or athletically. Hosting their annual Special Olympics basketball tournament gives an opportunity to some athletes to compete in an organized event which they might not have had, if not for the work of some FHSD students and staff.


“Four years ago,” said Joe Shaw, assistant principal at John Weldon Elementary, and Director of the FHSD Special Olympics Program, “the Francis Howell School District made it a priority to help support our local community by helping with the Special Olympics program. Before the District was directly involved, Special Olympics was very successful due in large part to the efforts of individuals like Bill Fankhauser, Jim Hammonds, and Tim Southmayd, among many others who donated countless hours to helping others.”


And that’s what it’s all about – helping others. Students and staff in FHSD are known for their philanthropic efforts, from raising money for cancer research, or America’s veterans through Honor Flight, to spending a weekend morning volunteering to clean up our streams. Service is key cog in a student’s development as a citizen. This is yet another chance for them to serve. Shaw said, “(FHSD) recognizes that it is important to serve all students in all aspects of life. Special Olympics helps to teach teamwork, the importance of hard work, and the dedication to a goal – all ideals which the district fully supports. In addition to helping the Special Olympics student-athletes, many students volunteer to serve Special Olympics through various roles. (FHSD) students volunteer by raising money to help those less fortunate, supporting the basketball tournament by refereeing, keeping score, and cheering for the athletes, and numerous other ways.” 


FHSD Special Olympics offers a diverse catalog of sports throughout the school year, including basketball, volleyball, bowling, softball, bocce, golf, soccer, and track and field events. The annual basketball tournament at Francis Howell Central (FHC) High School is its showcase event. It goes from 1:00 PM until 8:00 PM on Saturday, Jan. 16, and everyone is invited to attend for free. FHC athletes, students, and cheerleaders will be on scene to make it an even more enjoyable event. Shaw said, “I would like to thank (FHC Activities Director) Scott Harris, the boys and girls basketball teams at (FHC), and the (FHC) cheerleaders for volunteering to make the tournament such a huge success.”


And you can help in more ways than one. Come by FHC on Jan. 16 to help cheer on these courageous athletes. Or if you want to be more involved, there are a variety of opportunities. “The best way that others can support Special Olympics,” Shaw said, “is through volunteering to help coach a team, or helping to raise money to assist the families that participate in Special Olympics. FHSD helps support many families financially through the donations of community members and students.


“Special Olympics is a fantastic way to help serve others and support the community. I truly believe that when people are serving others, they are happiest in life. After volunteering, most people feel like the athletes have helped the volunteers more than the volunteers have helped the athletes. That is the power of giving and helping others.”


We all want to help others. All we need, just like these athletes, is an opportunity to shine.

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