Unified Color Run For (Dis)ability Awareness

(Left to Right): Emily Stuckey and Gary Smith. Contributed Photo

SMITHFIELD – On Saturday, April 23, over 100 people turned out for a Different Not Less Color Run at Smithfield-Selma High School (SSS). Volunteers doused participants with powdered color as they walked or ran the 3.1 mile trail course. A one mile fun run was also available for participants.

Proceeds from registration went to support Unified Spartans, a program that partners schools with Special Olympics to  promote inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities.

SSS is an ESPN National Banner winning school. This means that SSS has a plan to sustain the program with Unified Sports, whole school engagement and student leadership. The Unified Program at SSS is led by faculty members, Bethany Jones and Haley Cubbison.

The event was organized by Unified Pair Emily Stuckey and Gary Smith, both student leaders in the program. The Unified program has approximately 100 members.

The event came about when Jones encouraged Stuckey to write and apply for a grant sponsored by Special Olympics North America. The $500 grant was awarded in November to Stuckey, providing funding for the event t-shirts.

As the primary organizer of the event, Emily Stuckey wanted to “thank all the volunteers and participants from schools across the county for spending their Saturday to spread the word that, just because someone is different, that doesn’t mean they’re less.” 

Her favorite part of Unified, according to Stuckey, is how “…Unified shows everyone has something unique to offer.” Stuckey exemplified inclusion by ensuring that her Unified partner was involved in all steps of the planning process.

Gary Smith says his favorite part about Unified is “making new friends.”

The hope is that, through this run, more people will join Emily and Gary in the fight for inclusion.


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