Special Olympics Basketball packs the place at Naperville Central

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Lights, camera, action, it’s time to pack the place at Naperville Central! This is a night where Special Olympic athletes from Naperville take the court with their peers. This Feature Story is presented by Edward-Elmhurst Health.

“I like seeing community member’s come out that have nothing to do with the Special Olympics. They don’t even have kids that come to the school but they know it’s a good time so it’s nice to see the community come together,” said Special Olympics Coach Brandon Moriarty. 

Long time tradition keeps balling

The yearly basketball game where Team 203 Special Olympic athletes take the court to compete with their peers in front of an excited crowd cheering them on. Special Olympics coach Brandon Moriarty has been a part of the organization for six years, so he has seen time and time again how important events like this are for the kids.

“I knew that was kind of my goal is to continue that tradition and try to keep topping year after year and seeing what else we can do differently to make the event more bigger and more fun for everybody,” said Moriarty. 

The night started with an introduction for each student and then it was game time. Competing were kids from District 203 schools Naperville Central, Naperville North and the Connections program. With everyone going head to head on the court, the peers were right in the middle of the action.

“It was fun playing with your teammates, and people that you see everyday,” said Special Olympic Athlete Brandon Gray. 

“I really enjoyed it because it was one of my best experiences that I’ve had over the years. I’ve always done pack the gym and this is my last year at Central, so this was a thing that was most important to me and special,” said Special Olympic Athlete Anna Pohovey.

Help from community friends

Athletes from other Naperville Central teams helped out with the event, running concession stands or just cheering the athletes from the sidelines. Regardless of the final results, the kids were excited to see all their peers and family in the stands and competing with them on the court. This tradition brings love and enjoyment of sports to the entire Naperville Special Olympics community.

“I love that everyone was being so supportive of me playing my best and I loved it when everyone was cheering and having a good time,” said Pohovey. 

“I like that our student body does that. We had some people even miss their own events today because they know how important this is to our Naperville Special Olympics teams. They decided to be here for them and sacrifice what they had going on so I thought that was really cool by a lot of our peer helpers,” said Moriarty.