Menlo News March 13, 2023

Special Olympics Field Day unites students

Ari Krane hosts an all-kids Special Olympics Field Day

When Ari Krane was a Menlo Middle School student, he fondly recalled “these massive productions” with the Special Olympics, the fair and set-up for the qualifying event on campus, and it made an indelible impression.

For a couple of years, the Special Olympics at Cartan was on hold through the pandemic.

While the event typically had adult participants since it was a qualifier or Trials, Krane was dedicated to bringing a version back to campus. “So we started small, and worked our way back up.

“I remember volunteering in the Village, buddying with a few friends to run the magnet fishing station, and thought I wanted to bring something like that back last year for my MTerm project.”

As a junior for his mTerm project in which he could focus on a cause he is passionate about, Krane worked with Special Olympics Northern California to host and run a field day.

Last year, Menlo had 35 students from Arbor Bay, a K-8th grade school in San Carlos and 8-10 volunteers at Cartan Field. “They were all running around and playing fun games outside, and it was amazing,” Krane said.

This year, the senior worked with some friends and football and lacrosse teammates to rally a bigger group so they could put on an event that more closely resembled those in past years. Rain forced them inside but that didn’t take away from the field day with multiple sports and activity stations for the 125 special-education students from eight schools. Menlo students, parents, staff and buddies led basketball, obstacle courses, hockey, soccer, lacrosse, baseball stations set in the Athletic Center and the West Gym.

“There’s a complete range of abilities,” Krane said. “Some are able to do more stations than others and that’s totally OK. We have set them up with the scaffolding they need to have fun.”

Many kids also brought their buddies, regular-education students from Hillview and South San Francisco who partner with them throughout the year. Faculty and staff were participating in professional development workshops but some coaches and trainers joined the nearly 70 Menlo parents and student volunteers.

“A couple kids would look up at their parents or teacher and say, ‘I had so much fun - I love this station’ or ‘I love the obstacle course, or I really liked learning how to play lacrosse,’ ” said Krane, who ran the event but once it got started, was able to visit the stations.

“A lot of them are very able despite whatever special-need difference they have, and they’re certainly able to enjoy it. I think the smiles and the bits of communication with a wide range of students were really great.”