Parade cheers on Willow’s Special Olympians

There were cheers and high-fives, lots of smiles and congratulatory posters as special education students paraded with paper Olympic torches through the halls of Willow School in Homewood on Thursday.
 
This was the second year students came out of their classrooms to line the halls for the parade through the building, cheering the athletes as they get ready to compete on Saturday in a regional meet hosted by Illinois Special Olympics.
 
“This is probably my favorite part of the entire year,” said dad Brandon Svec who came out to cheer for his son, Liam, 8, who will be at Thornwood High School for the Region E festivities. “(Willow) did this for him last year as well. I just think it’s so cool how all the kids lined up to support them.”
 
Teacher Kendra Duncan, who leads the Daily Living Skills class, is the coach for the Willow team. Willow students will be competing in two events: a run and a tennis ball throw. Kindergarteners and first-graders will compete against their fellow Willow classmates. Second-graders will enter competition against kids from other schools.
 
Duncan said 15 schools from the south suburbs will be at the meet, which is open to students of all ages. 
 
Each Wednesday after school Duncan has been leading drills for an hour to teach the students how to line up, understand when to start the race, and work on running and throwing skills. 
 
This is the third year Willow students are competing. Duncan said the number climbs every year. Of the 12 students in her class, nine will be competing on Saturday.

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