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Special Olympics Basketball Event Held at John Marshall High School

Marshall County Special Olympics elementary school participants stand alongside their peer tutors after receiving medals for playing in a basketball competition held Thursday at the John Marshall High School in Glen Dale.

GLEN DALE – More than 130 Special Olympians gathered at John Marshall High School’s gymnasium on Thursday for a day of basketball and fun.

Students from all Marshall County elementary, middle and high schools participated in the basketball competition run by Marshall County Special Olympics.

“It’s one of my favorite days of the year,” said Lori Prascik, county games coordinator. “It’s fun, and I just get to sit back and watch it.”

Participants competed in dribbling, shooting and passing events throughout the day alongside peer tutors, students from Cameron High School and John Marshall who assisted the athletes.

John Marshall hosted its first Special Olympics basketball event in 2016, though Marshall County has held events involving swimming, soccer and bowling for many years prior, Prascik said.

The day featured competitions for elementary, middle and high schoolers, as well as other community members who qualified. Participants earned medals at various basketball stations throughout the gym.

“It’s a good chance for kids, for these young guys with special needs to hang out with high school kids,” said Prascik, who organized the event with coordinator Catherine Folmar.

“There are bonds that are formed, we have a couple of peer tutors that request certain kids each year because they’ve worked with them over the years.”

By late Thursday morning, the gymnasium was filled with elementary school athletes shooting baskets, running and playing with their peer tutors.

“We have kids that have tutored for us freshman, sophomore, junior, senior year. They develop bonds with us, they develop bonds with our kids,” Prascik said. “That’s the best part of it, to see the bonds that are formed.”

“We can’t say enough about these high school kids,” she added.

“They’re the backbone here, we just plan things.”

All participants were also given a blue treat bag for Halloween trick-or-treating.

The blue signifies that the holder is a special needs child, and the bags are in honor of Dylan McGlynn, a local Special Olympian who died in 2015, Prascik said.

“Dylan was 6 foot 3 inches, but loved to trick or treat,” Prascik said, fighting back tears. “Dylan touched a lot of our hearts.”

Erin Cuffaro, coordinator of special education for Marshall County, said the competition benefits area youth.

“This is a fantastic event,” she said. “It’s an amazing event for the kids. I appreciate all the peer tutors as well.”

Prascik thanked the school and county staff who were present at the event for their support.

The event also received financial support from the Moundsville chapter of the Knights of Pythias, who held a pancake breakfast earlier in the year benefiting Marshall County Special Olympics and Relay for Life.

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