After the crowd of South Ripley students had finally started to settle down in the high school gymnasium, Special Olympics Indiana athlete, Mitch Bonar, from Noblesville, stood with a wide smile on his face.
Bonar, who was born with cerebral palsy, spoke to the school’s student body as part of the IHSAA’s Champions Together program. The program is a collaborative partnership between the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics Indiana that promotes servant leadership among student athletes while changing their lives as well as the lives of those with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics International is supporting Champions Together as a model program to activate schools through Project Unify: which also has the endorsement of the National Federation of High Schools.
Following his speech, which emphasized the importance of making a difference one person at a time and inclusion of Special Olympics athletes, Bonar was greeted and thanked by several South Ripley students.
“I seriously loved Mitch’s speech yesterday! He has opened my heart and eyes to see how hard it is for other people, but yet with people as special as Mitch is, they push to do whatever they want to! He is seriously an amazing role model! SRHS, Brianna Miller posted on the Champions Together Facebook page.
During the speech, Bonar touched on the struggle he went through to learn how to tie his shoes and perform other everyday tasks. Special Olympics gave him a place where he could feel he belonged and face his fears.
The goals to the Champions Together program are to 1.)provide opportunities for student led servent leadership as part of the IHSAA experience; 2.) create awareness and opportunities for inclusion as it relates to all individuals with intellectual disabilities; 3.) Unified Sports; 4.) promote fundraising for the purpose of promoting the vision and programs of Special Olympics Indiana and Champions Together. After achieving all four goals the school receives a Champions Together banner to proudly display in their gym.
The Raiders hosted a volleyball and cheer leading camp for students with and without disabilities this past weekend as part of their Champions Together. For the past five years, SRHS has been bestowed the covenant honor of the being the “coolest school” in the our Polar Plunge Cool School Challenge. This past February was no different, raising over $4,000.