In 2012, Blair Miller attended his son’s basketball game at Oakton High School. It was Edwin’s first year on the team, and the Millers were unsure of what to expect. What happened that night - and from that point on - forever changed them.
The Millers experienced an outpouring of support from the community. From fans to volunteers to sponsors to the coaches, every person in the gym that night was there to cheer on the team - to cheer for Edwin.
Another special aspect of the team: it is coached by the Oakton Girls Varsity Basketball team. Combining Special Olympics athletes with junior varsity and varsity athletes - much like our Champions Together program model - sets the stage for motivation, teamwork and lasting friendships.
"This mix of peer coaching drives a special bond between players and coaches," he said. The team's program is so strong that it now - 3 years later - bleeds over into Special Olympics swimming. Most all of the players on the basketball team are part of Oakton Swim Club. And new athletes who start swimming with the Club in the spring are quick to join the basketball team at the start of the next school year.
This June, Edwin also participated in our state-level Summer Games, and received two gold medals in the aquatics competition.
"You can imagine we are incredibly proud of him," said Blair. "More importantly, as you will see in the photos, he is extraordinarily proud of himself. While I cannot speak for all this year's participants, the social skills, sense of belonging, and athleticism of the entire Oakton Swim Club has exploded this year. Our kids are benefiting from student led coaching and Olympic competition. They travel as a pack. They take pride in what they do and support each other in every activity. Parents unanimously agree Special Olympics is doing a great job motivating our athletes in the values of hard work, persistence, teamwork, friendship and above all respect."
When you play unified, you live unified.