Members of the Lake National Honor Society came together to organize a special track meet for individuals with disabilities.
This was the moment Bill Inman has waited years for.
After the National Anthem played, Inman stepped out of his wheelchair, smiled and competed in a 25-meter dash inside Lake Blue Streak Stadium.
Even though Inman finished last in this heat of the track meet, Tuesday was his day. His dream to compete in a track and field event was fulfilled, largely through efforts to one Lake High School senior, Angela Cuthbert.
Inman was among the 20 or so developmentally challenged participants competing in the athletic event. He is a resident of the nearby Hartville Meadows residential facility operated by a group called GentleBrooks.
“He has Down syndrome,” said Cuthbert, who helped arrange the track meet as her National Honor Society service project. “He recently developed Alzheimer’s (disease). His health has been deteriorating so rapidly. This is my project. The goal is to serve this community.”
Other competitive events were the 50-meter run, wheelchair race and softball throw. Inman and the other participants seemed to enjoy displaying their determination to compete in front of 100 or so cheering spectators.
Inman, who is in his 50s, has had a long-running desire to compete in a Special Olympics event.
“When he was young, every time he tried to be in a track meet something would happen,” Roxanne Korte, administrator at Hartville Meadows, said. “He hurt his knee, he hurt his hip. So this was his dream.”
To help Inman realize that dream, Cuthbert and other Lake High School National Honor Society students joined with Hartville Meadows to stage the track meet.
“So they pulled it together fast,” said Sherri Landis, a Lake High English teacher and National Honor Society adviser. “It is completely student-led.”
Lake High School allowed use of its stadium.
“What a great event,” Principal Kevin Tobin said, while viewing from the stadium press box. “Everybody is volunteering. Tonight is about giving.”
Another student, Nicole Vercuski, made arrangements with Giant Eagle to set up a refreshment stand with pastry treats. Vercuski said she paid for some of the refreshments, such as bottled water. And she also collected donations for GentleBrooks.
“I thought it was great,” she said. “I felt Giant Eagle donated so much with the donuts.”