High School Sports

GCISD hosts Best Buddies Special Olympics: ‘I had no idea how life changing it would be’

Best Buddies is a growing international organization and shares the energy and enthusiasm as they work to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For the past three to four decades, Best Buddies has been part of the Grapevine-Colleyville community and once a year, GCISD holds a track meet at Mustang-Panther Stadium to help promote its Special Olympics.

“What I enjoy the most is that the rest of our school is partnered with a buddy during the games and events,” Colleyville Heritage principal Lance Groppel said. “I love getting to see the special needs kids participate and their joy and excitement during those games.”

One of those students that partnered with a Best Buddy is Grapevine senior Georgia Neill.

“This was my first year being a peer buddy in best buddies and going into it, I had no idea how life changing it would be,” Neill said. “My buddy, Tricia, has taught me new perspectives on how to view things, the importance of inclusion and how to stay strong in moments that are difficult.”

Tricia has down syndrome, but that doesn’t stop her from enjoying the same things like softball and hanging out with friends.

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD held its Best Buddies Special Olympics at Mustang-Panther Stadium, Wednesday March 20, 2019. Devon Cox GCISD

“Spending time with Tricia over the past seven months has been so much fun and means so much to me that I can be the person to make her day just a little bit better,” Neill said. “What I’ve learned through best buddies is that these kids love it when peer buddies hang out with them. It’s hard for them to create friendships so it means the world to them to have people in best buddies spend time with them and love on them.”

GCISD is only one school district that will hold such an event, but Heritage and Grapevine students will go to other events in the area. Keller and Southlake kids were a few that came to MPS on March 20.

The students also play basketball, bowl and swim.

Grapevine and Heritage held a Red Rail Best Buddies basketball game in February too.

“We do it every year and it’s really fun,” Grapevine principal David Denning said. “They’ll compete in different events and at school we have a best buddies P.E. class and art class so we decided to have a basketball game. The kids love it.”

“The goal is to promote all students with special needs,” Groppel added. “It’s really great to see the rest of the school and community come and support those kids.”

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.