On Saturday, January 6, 2024, Palmer Trinity School (PTS) partnered with Special Olympics Florida to host the “Unified Strides Track and Field Invitational Meet” at its campus. In a show of unity and inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, more than 60 athletes from the Special Olympics and more than 60 PTS student volunteers participated. Events included a unified 1,500-meter race, a 4×100 meter relay, and a 4×400 meter relay.
After a chance meeting with the director of the nonprofit Our Pride Academy, which provides programs including competitive athletics to teach essential academic and daily living skills to empower students to live independent and fulfilling lives, PTS student and cross-country/track captain, Daniella Perez-Cartaya (‘24), came up with the idea of hosting “Unified Strides.”
“I wasn’t sure what to expect on race day, and I was nervous about the event running smoothly, but watching my friends and teammates show up to volunteer and participate let me know that it was going to be a great event,” said Perez-Cartaya. “Running with the athletes from Our Pride Academy and witnessing their 110% effort and desire to do well taught me how similar we all are and how sports can serve as a ‘common language’ to build community and foster a spirit of inclusion among all people.”
Palmer Trinity’s Best Buddies Club, where Perez-Cartaya serves as vice president, hosted bake sales and sold holiday candy grams to raise a portion of the funds for the race.
“Building a strong partnership with Special Olympics is important to us,” stated Patrick Roberts, Head of School. “It provides an opportunity for our students to put into practice what they are taught through the School’s Advisory L.E.T. Program that focuses on Love, Empathy, and Tolerance. These are not just words to us, but qualities to which we aspire.”