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RIISE students waiting to participate in Special Olympic events

RIISE Program’s victorious outing in the Essex County Special Olympics

On April 26, the RIISE program headed to Brookdale Park where they competed in the 2023 Essex County Special Olympics event. Students with intellectual disabilities can compete in several Olympic-style events through the Special Olympics, a nationwide organization that divides the country into states and districts based on location. 


The four students who were competing in this event: Santino Farro, Daniel Thompson, Justin Andros, and Gabriel DeCicco, were cheered on by the hallways of NHS as they left their classrooms and headed to the competition. They were met at the entrance of the park by state police, who guided them in as they got ready to prepare for the activities.  


The event featured a number of different activities, including the long jump, 4 by 100 relay race, softball toss, and 50 meter walk. Justin Andros participated in the 50 meter walk, where he took home the gold medal. Andros, Farro, Thompson, and DeCicco also took part in the Relay 4 by 100 race where they won the bronze medal. “I had so much fun competing with my friends,” said Farro.   


Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo announced all the awards. Additionally present were police officers from Essex County, who presented medals to each event's winners. 


“This event was incredibly organized and taken very seriously. They had an awesome time,” said Maura Byrne, teacher for the RIISE students. 


Other sports held by the Special Olympics include track and field and basketball. They also have a bowling league, in which the members of RIISE participated and competed in late January. 


The physical education and history teachers have reached out to the RIISE program offering to train the members during the track and field season next year. “We want to get the kids involved in the community,” said Robert Porrino, coach of the NHS track and field team. The coach plans to have these athletes help RIISE students prepare for the track and field competition and support them by attending next year.