Runners complete 5K to support unified sports

Apr 30, 2023

Despite the rain, over 100 runners came to Dartmouth High School to participate in the second annual 5K fundraiser to support Unified Sports on Sunday, April 30.

According to Unified Sports Coach John Breult, the Unified Sports program “uses sports as a vehicle to practice inclusion and acceptance.” The program pairs athletes with intellectual disabilities on the same team with general education students.

This season was senior Sydney Downs first time on the team.

“I love seeing [teammates] feel accomplished,” she said. Downs explained that at their last meet, she cheered on her teammate Alexis Benjamin as she beat a personal record for javelin throwing.

“It made me feel good and it made me feel strong,” said Benjamin. 

Both Downs and Benjamin said that they were most excited about the “unified lap,” which included special ed athletes from the Dartmouth and New Bedford Unified Track teams.

“I’m excited to run with my friends,” said Benjamin.

According to New Bedford Unified Track coach Phill Mcdevitt, this is the first time the New Bedford team has participated in the 5k event.

“They are super excited,” he said, referring to his team. “They get to meet the Dartmouth team, they are fired up.”

The event was set up by Theresa Street, a nonprofit established in 2020 by Dartmouth High alums which aims to raise “money, awareness, and mutual aid for organizations doing meaningful and measurable work in the South Coast.”

According to Theresa Street co-founder Ray Paul Biron, the non-profit supports the Unified Sports program due to the inclusive environment it creates. 

“Regardless of intellectual capacity or background you can come together and compete on the same level,” said Biron. 

According to Biron, this year the non-profit raised approximately $10,000 in funds. 

“What is great about that is the coaches don’t have to worry so much about fundraising throughout the year,” he said. “This will take the load off of them so they can focus on the programs.”