ELYRIA — The feeling of being at Ely Stadium watching as hundreds of athletes compete in the annual Special Olympics event is almost indescribable.
For the athletes — 568 participated in the 2016 track-and-field event — the day is the culmination of months of hard work. But they can’t do it alone.
Last year, more than 300 adult and student volunteers helped along the way. And this year, a special group of students wants to see more volunteers pick up the torch May 12. And, they are getting the word out with a class-produced nearly four-minute-long commercial.
The students, all with mild to moderate disabilities, researched, wrote and starred in the video with the help of intervention specialist Kevin Corp and others.
“This started because another teacher, Karen Hahn at Eastern Heights (Middle School), was trying to get together a group of students who wanted to volunteer, but they wanted to know what to expect,” he said. “The video can show them better than anyone can tell them.”
Corp collaborated with the Special Olympics committee on the video and his class wrote the script and went on camera as actors. The class also wrote a song with the help of Anthony Steward, a performer at the Beck Center who, through a grant with the center, works with Corp’s class through music therapy. He helped the kids write lyrics to illustrate the message of the commercial and the plan is to turn the song into a music video.
Jim Kistler, who teaches video editing at Elyria High School, edited and produced the video.
“The big thing we got out of this was collaboration,” Corp said. “We worked with so many people on this project.”
The result is something special. As Corp said, “You can’t watch this video without smiling.”
You won’t be able to volunteer either without smiling, Corp said.
“You just get this good feeling inside,” he said. “You are helping people and at the same time learning how to work with everyone. That’s what I tell people who volunteer with Special Olympics. This event is about the kids, and if you see them as just kids, you’ll be fine.”