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Foran High’s Unified Sports participants certainly get a lot out of competing in events, such as Bunnell of Stratford’s Unified Sports Basketball Tournament on March 10.

Not only did they have chances to celebrate scoring baskets and have fun competing in a round-robin event, but they interacted with one another and their partners, as well as opposing team members.

Over 240 Unified athletes and partners from Bassick, Bethel, Brookfield, Bunnell, Foran, Joel Barlow, Jonathan Law, Masuk, Newtown, Stratford and West Haven High Schools participated in the event that drew hundreds of spectators.  Fairfield County IAABO#9 basketball referees donated their services to officiate and nearly 100 students including the Bunnell cheerleaders and dance teams volunteered to help run the tournament.   

As much enjoyment as the players got from participation in events such as this, it seems safe to say the partners had an equally enjoyable time.

“The most rewarding part is getting to know the kids, being a part of this, seeing them around school and saying hi,” partner David Alldredge said. “Sharing high-fives with the athletes on the court or playing field, as well as in the hallway in school, goes a long way. It just makes your day and their day that much better.”

The coaches, too, get a lot out of their involvement with the special needs students.

“It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever decided to do,” said Meghan Basher, who coaches the team along with Rick Raucci, who ran cross country at Foran and graduated in 2008. Basher went to high school in New York state.

“Seeing the kids have the opportunity they normally wouldn’t get to participate, and seeing the enjoyment they get out of it, that’s pretty rewarding,” Raucci said.

The partners take home the great experience of interacting with special needs students in a setting in which sportsmanship is paramount. They assist not only their school teammates, but also participants from competing lineups.

“They learn a lot about working with peers and giving back which is what building a community is all about,” Raucci said. “It’s a lesson not only for the athletes but also the partners involved.”

Bunnell Athletic Director Meredith Pacelli said, “This is an amazing day. This is just a day that brings me so much joy to see the passion and sportsmanship from the kids and see just how appreciative they are.”

“In my thirty-four years as educator and athletic director here this was always, and continues, to be my favorite day of the year,” said former Bunnell Athletic Director and current South-West Conference Commissioner Dave Johnson.

Foran’s program offers soccer in the fall, track and field in the spring and bowling throughout the school year, and hosts tournaments.

Foran athletes and partners are: Tiffany Truini, Scott Leiper, John Lott, Juan Perez, Gabrielle Foster, Brooke Haney, David Alldredge, Samantha Pierpont, Jordan Fox, Amanda Grisier, Emerson Mayville, Mary O’Connor, Chelsea Aliberti, Tiana Alburquerque, Jacob Eckenrode, Jabriel Blue, Amanda Caprio, Ryan Viera, Brian Flanagan, Bobby McGinnis, Gary Wilcox and Reed Keller.