The local chapter of the Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program track team is holding up to its name. The team participated in the Southern Connecticut Youth Invite Track Meet in May and the runners had a strong showing on the track. Athletes Eli Feinberg, Ryan Zolty and Xavier McNemar all placed in the top 25 in the boys 110 dash for their age divisions.
Orange resident Mimi Washington started the chapter in 2017 with the intent of giving young people with special needs a place where they could run, be active and be with friends. “As it says in the rtsnp.org website, Rolling Thunder’s goals are the true meaning of inclusion and independence. Through running and track, not only do we work on the athletes’ fitness levels and techniques, but also we build up their confidence and self-esteem,” Washington says. “This will enable them to be more independent in their everyday lives and improve the quality of their lives. We achieve this through participation in mainstream running.”
The Southern CT Youth meet was the very first one for most of her athletes, but they adapted to the new environment very well, followed directions and competed very strongly. “We also break the barriers by participating in the mainstream event, competing fair and square and even sometimes winning!” she says with great pride in her team.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent
Left to right: Coach Mimi Washington, Ryan Zolty (13), Eli Feinburg (10), Antonio Shanklin (13), Xavier McNemar (11), and Coach Mike Feinburg