On Sunday, May 5th HLF Young Ambassador, Sarah Keane, organized a track meet for disabled athletes at Seaford High School in Seaford, NY. Sarah is an active volunteer for Shooting Stars Track Club, a running program that provides a safe, judgement free area for children with special needs to exercise and socialize with their peers. As a competitive cross country and track and field athlete, Sarah recognized that the athletes she practiced with had never experienced a track race in the way that she had.
This motivated Sarah to initiate and organize a track meet for kids with disabilities called “Sprint for Inclusion”. The event required 9 months’ worth of planning but was definitely well worth that time. Sarah’s hope was that Sprint for Inclusion would bring together a diverse group of students with different abilities and promote the overall idea of inclusion in sports in the Seaford community. Due to weather conditions “Sprint for Inclusion” had to be held indoors, but it was still a great success; athletes from all over Long Island had an amazing time and their parents were extremely proud of them, shocked to tears by their child’s great accomplishments.
Sarah’s overall goal for the event was for the athletes to have an unforgettable, positive experience with their friends and bond over the sport of track and field. Sarah’s second goal was to raise money for Achilles Kids Foundation, a program that promotes a healthy lifestyle for individuals with disabilities and gives them the opportunity to exercise regularly. Exercise is important for this population of children specifically because many have trouble communicating and giving them an outlet to be active is what they need to deal with some of their struggles in life.
Sprint for Inclusion raised $2,722 for Achilles Kids Foundation through generous donations from local businesses that were used as raffles, the sale of meet t-shirts and a 50/50 raffle. Sarah was incredibly grateful to all of the community groups, clubs, families, and friends who made Sprint for Inclusion such a success. Volunteers from Seaford’s Best Buddies Club and Shooting Stars Track Club that were paired with athletes helped the event run smoothly and guided their athletes through each event.
“Sprint for Inclusion fully surpassed any expectation that I had originally had for it” said Sarah. “It was truly amazing to see how happy the children that I work with every week became when they were included and given the opportunity to run. Planning this event was so important to me because the athletes that I coach mean so much to me. It also gave my peers at my high school a better understanding of this community of individuals, and I hope that it will help them become more accepting of individuals with all different abilities. I hope that Sprint for Inclusion can be continued again in years to come.”
Written by 2019 HLFYA Sarah Keane
School: Seaford High School
Person Who Inspires Me: My brother