Phoenix, Ariz – One of the most important connections made here is between athlete and buddy. Special Olympics athlete Delaney is making people smile at Guardian Games and on the dancefloor.
“She can be a little stubborn but always super sweet.”
Those words describe Special Olympics athlete Delaney Larsen. Though short in stature, she measures up to the competition.
“You know, Delaney’s really carrying us right now,” said Jared Kremlacek, and Account Executive at iHeart Media and a buddy to Delaney at Guardian Games. “We go in there and we’re like ‘Delaney, what do you want to do?’ She’s got it all mapped out for us.”
Every Special Olympics athlete is paired with three participants, including one law enforcement officer. The objective of guardian games is to build a close relationship between the athletes and their teammates through obstacles and games.
In the Law Enforcement Experience, teams must gear up in a vest and helmet, band together to push a police SUV, then carry a dead weight dummy through the remainder of the course, Delaney holds her own with teammates double her in size.
“Hanging out with Delaney, throwing high fives and helping her make shots at the basketball hoop is a lot of fun,” said Gary Reynolds, VP Sales, iHeart Media and Delaney’s buddy at Guardian Games
Attached at the hip with Delaney is Hannah, her best friend at the event.
“I think it’s awesome because it incorporates all these events with these wonderful volunteers,” said Hannah Kress.
When they’re not tackling the superhero obstacle course, Delaney and Hannah are dancing as classmates at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, Ariz.
Delaney and Hannah take part in a unified adaptive dance class that pairs students with special needs and their student peers.
“Our peers are there to model with our students and help them with communication, help them with those social skills,” said Janelle Perrin, Adaptive Physical Education Teacher, Cave Creek School District.
The class is currently learning a dance mashup featuring multiple Michael Jackson songs.
“Delaney is a sassy firecracker. She’s got a really big personality,” said Haley Vago, Dance Teacher, Cactus Shadows High School. “She is definitely shy at first but once you get to know her, she’s got some dance moves, let’s just leave it at that.”