For Eli, Sam, Branden, Matt, Nat, Joel, and Gage – seven young men who live in May Institute student residences in Randolph, Mass., – it was a weekend to remember. That’s because their basketball team, the May Center Mayhem, traveled to Worcester to represent the Institute in the Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA) State Tournament.
After two days and four games, the team was “one and three,” and the athletes – all young men with autism or other developmental disabilities – were proudly wearing the medals they had earned.
Patrick Keary, Assistant Residential Director of the May Center for Child Development school in Randolph, is also the team’s head coach. This is the third year the May Center has sent a basketball team to the SOMA Winter Games.
“This year’s team included three staff members, but many more May employees got involved and came to assist with practices,” Patrick explained. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
The May Center Mayhem was in SOMA’s Unified Mentoring division, which allows student players to play with partners. The Mayhem’s partners were staff members who facilitated play, but did not shoot or block shots. A few months earlier, students and staff started practicing twice a week to prepare for the big weekend.
“SOMA put us up in a hotel room for Saturday night, which was a great opportunity for our students,” said Patrick. “That night, SOMA put on a dance and gave us the red carpet treatment – literally. From the red carpet to the spotlight pointed at the sky, to the volunteers cheering everyone as they came in, to the Athletes’ Village they had set up, SOMA really went all out!”
A medal ceremony was held at the end of the day on Sunday and each student and unified partner happily received their medals as a small crowd of family and friends cheered them on. Then the team celebrated their success with treats provided by their family and friends before heading back to their May Center residences to prepare for the school week, and a hero’s welcome.