ROANOKE, Va. – A day where disabilities aren't defining. An equal playing field in an inclusive environment is what was offered to more than 1,200 kids Wednesday at the Special Olympics Little Feet Meet at Northside High School. The annual event made up of children from 51 area elementary schools is thought to be the largest in the country.
The opening ceremony kicked off with Amber Gallagher of Roanoke carrying the ceremonial torch down the high school's track while a crowd cheered her and other athletes on.
Gallagher described the moment in one word: “Happy.” A shared sentiment for high school senior Danielle Davoll, a club member of Unified, an organization where children with and without intellectual disabilities are encouraged to engage through the power of sports.
"It was a happy moment for me also. She's such a joy to work with. So seeing her out in front of everybody and everything is just great,” Davoll said.
The event is a day to shine a light on children who don't normally take the spotlight.
Five year old Meg Burrow was one of the athletes. She’s been participating since she was two years old. Her mom Meredith explained that Meg was born with cerebellar hypoplasia which is a rare brain disease that affects her motor skills and speech. Wednesday, Meg wasn’t defined by her disease. She was defined by her abilities.
Her big smile was all you needed to see to know how much it meant to her and the other athletes.
“Getting to see your own child out here is just something that just brings tears to your eyes. She gets to be like every other child and this is a great event,” Burrow said. “You get to see your child shine.”