Going for Gold Together
Kell High School, Marietta, Georgia
Passion is what drives so many Impact Projects. Kell High School in Marietta, Georgia is no exception. When planning began for this year’s Impact Project, what came through loud and clear was the number of students who had a connection to the special needs community. They knew that whatever the project was, it would benefit and serve those with special needs.
Students got to work brainstorming. At the beginning, they reached out to Special Olympics to forge a partnership. Yet, it became clear that these relationships were time intensive, official, and paperwork-heavy endeavors that they could not accomplish in just a few months— the timeline for their Impact Project. So they did what you do when at first you don’t succeed: they tried again. This time, they pivoted to a Kell-branded event for the special needs community, and KELLympics was born.
Along with a Microgrant from the Chick-fil-A Foundation, students raised an additional $600.00 and were able to drive costs down through discounts from event sponsors. “Our Chick-fil-A Operator Brad Roper was awesome,” explained Facilitator Ben Needle. “Throughout the program and with our Impact Project, it was as if he could anticipate our need, and stepped up right when we needed him.”
Bringing the Community Together
Held on the track field at Kell High School, KELLympics was a day where children with special needs and their families could come and enjoy a day of friendly competition, fun, and community.
The games began after a spirited opening from KELLympian, Presley Monday, who recited the Special Olympics oath — “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in my attempt.” Each KELLympian was paired with one to three Kell student ambassadors who hosted the families. Athletes participated in kickball, T-ball, soccer, running and dancing. It was a day full of laughter, accomplishment, and unity— the kind of moments only possible when events like this are created.
When the competition was over, each KELLympian and their student ambassadors enjoyed a picnic on the field and award ceremony complete with medals for all participating athletes. In fact, students had learned so much about their athletes throughout the day that they were each able to give small, personalized speeches before presenting their respective athletes with a medal. “It was a really cool part of the day,” said Ben. “Students knew exactly what to say — it was so genuine and meaningful.”
When asked about the Impact Project, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy student Milad Jabbari talked about the smiles— so many smiles. He also spoke to the growth of his servant leadership, saying, “I’ve learned to put others before yourself and to be grateful.”