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District U-46 recognizes Special Olympic athletes

By Seth Hancock
  A group of students were recently recognized at the School District U-46 Board of Education meeting on Monday, Aug. 26 for their accomplishments in Special Olympics events.
  Natalie Gort, Constantina “Tina” Hondros and Laila Tran all earned event gold medals for the U-46 BlueStars in June at the Illinois Special Olympics summer games in Bloomington-Normal. Jackson Miller also won gold at the games for the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association team.
  Renee Grandstaff won gold in Orlando, Florida this past April at the International Cheer Union’s World Championships on the U.S. National Special Olympics Unified Intermediate cheerleading team. She trains in Hanover Park and is a part of U-46’s transition program.
  Danielle Williams, Grandstaff’s teacher, said for a district press release: “We are incredibly proud of Renee for all of her hard work, determination, and confidence. Renee is such an incredible student and an inspiration to many people around her.”
  Gort won the gold in the 200-meter run. She is a student at Bartlett’s Nature Ridge Elementary School.
  “Miss Natalie is a great little competitor,” BlueStars coach Lindsey Reynolds said for the release. “She may be one of our younger athletes, but she has shown that her athleticism is right up there with the more experienced athletes, and she has been so fun to watch interact with and formulate friendships with the other BlueStars. She started off quite shy, and has really grown to be quite the interactive teammate.”
  Hondros, a Bartlett High School freshman, won gold in the 25-meter freestyle swim, and Tran, a Streamwood High School senior, was a gold medalist in the 200 run.
  “Tina has a constant smile, thoughtful disposition, and always, always demonstrates good sportsmanship,” Reynolds said of Hondros. “In every event I have ever seen her compete in, she initiates kind conversations with the athletes she is sitting next to and competing against.”
  Of Tran, Reynolds said: “Laila is a bright light and is constantly positive and lifting each person up, including her coaches. She is never without a smile on her face and celebrates both victories and challenging events with the same vigor and positive attitude.”
  Miller, a junior at Larkin High School in Elgin, took gold in the 50 backstroke swim event.




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