Buddy Basketball brings bright smiles to faces

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  • Sunshots by Grayson Williams — Briamah Edmond runs under an arch of hands made by basketball players and cheerleaders at Buddy Basketball on Dec. 16 at Hart County High School.
    Sunshots by Grayson Williams — Briamah Edmond runs under an arch of hands made by basketball players and cheerleaders at Buddy Basketball on Dec. 16 at Hart County High School.
  • Michael McDonald shoots with basketball players and cheerleaders at Buddy Basketball on Dec. 16 at Hart County High School.
    Michael McDonald shoots with basketball players and cheerleaders at Buddy Basketball on Dec. 16 at Hart County High School.
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A crowd of athletes storms through a Hart County Bulldog banner, taking Ensley-McCurley Court in style.

But this isn’t the Hart County boys’ or girls’ basketball teams preparing to warm up. It’s a group of special olympics athletes who showed off their skills on Monday at the high school as a part of the Buddy Basketball Showcase.

Students in the high school’s Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy organized the showcase as a part of their “Do Good December” project. Leader academy students partnered up with special olympic athletes from both the middle school and high school and got the chance to shoot some hoops with the Bulldogs’ and Lady Dogs’ basketball teams, as well as play some cornhole.

Freshman Amahd Longworth is one of the 27 Hart County students in the Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy and said the group decided on this project because it wanted to help raise money for special needs students. A $3 admission was charged at the door and all proceeds will be donated to the Special Olympics.

“You’re giving back to the community so it feels good to give back to them,” Longworth said on Monday at the event. “I like to see the smiles on their faces.”

There were plenty of smiles from the special olympic athletes as current basketball players and cheerleaders cheered them on while shooting free throws, jump-shots, knocking down three-pointers and sinking cornhole bags. At one point, a full-on chant broke out from players and cheerleaders, cheering on an athlete as she made a shot. 

“We just sat around and thought about what we could do that would impact others,” Hart County High School Principal Kevin Gaines said about how the event came about. “I know another school that’s done something similar to this with football and I threw that idea out there and they seemed to all like it. ”

Gaines said it was nice to see the cheerleaders and basketball players interacting together with special olympic athletes.

“It’s neat to see our basketball players cheering on our special olympic athletes. I told them before we started, the basketball players, these kids look up to them. They want to be able to shoot the basketball like them and all that, so it’s been pretty cool to watch them and cheer them on,” Gaines said.