Special Olympics Day returns to Dartmouth

May 20, 2022

The annual Special Olympics School Day Games made its triumphant return to Dartmouth Friday with its biggest turnout yet.

Nearly 450 athletes from seven South Coast cities and towns filled Memorial Stadium for a day consisting of races, kicking soccer balls, and having fun.

“It’s so exciting to be back on this scale,” said Dartmouth High Special Education teacher John Breault, who helped organize the event. “Things are becoming normal again.”

He was also assisted by fellow coaches Ashley Kocur-Pierpont and Mike Capello, who was responsible for launching the event around two decades ago.

For the past 14 years, the annual event was held inside the Dartmouth High gym and outdoor track facilities. With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, that year’s festivities were canceled, but were able to return in a limited capacity last year at Memorial Stadium.

That day was just limited to Dartmouth students.

“We had such a great day last year here that we wanted to find a way to bring it back and [continue to] utilize this space,” Breault said.

Also new to this year’s event was the inclusion of the Dartmouth High media production class, whose students helped livestream the festivities and conducted interviews with many of the athletes who competed.

“It’s been a real big hit for us,”  Breault said.

Breault, who’s involvement in the event dates back to when he was a fifth grader in Dartmouth Public Schools, said what he liked most about the return was that the school can continue to find ways to shine a spotlight on these special olympians.

“If you and I did music programs, theater or sports, we have a chance to do something every day of the week — these kids unfortunately don’t get that opportunity all the time,” he said. “It really makes all the setup worthwhile.”

Aaron Alves, a former Dartmouth special olympian himself, agreed.

He said what he likes most about the annual Special Olympics event is how it brings families and schools together in order to make the day “special for everyone.”

“I treasure these types of memories,” he said.