Reach for the Stars reaches out to L.A. Special Olympians

By Talon Contributor Sarah Wong ’14

Melendrez & rising start

Pastoral Associate Joe Melendrez and rising Special Olympics star reach for that perfect tune. Jan. 20 photo by Sarah Wong ’14.

“Does anyone watch Disney movies?” calls out Chaminade Pastoral Associate Joe Melendrez, the DJ for the afternoon. He’s met with a roar of excitement as guests throw their arms into the air in eager anticipation of the The Lion King song, “Hakuna Matata.”

This was no average high school dance or even post-game Winter Informal. Reach for the Stars’ Dance for Special-Needs brought athletes from the Los Angeles Special Olympics together for a special afternoon in a fantasy winter wonderland Jan. 19.

Reach for the Stars members, Samantha Boncich and Jillian Martin, both juniors, made their dream a reality with the support of club adviser, Mrs. Jenni Porter, her husband and Social Sciences instructor, Dr. Ross Porter, and volunteers including Activities Director Ms. Julie LaBelle and Key Club, another of Chaminade’s service-oriented extracurricular groups.

Volunteers treated the girls to a mini-spa, applying makeup, curling hair, and painting fingernails. It was hard to tell who had bigger smiles, Key Club and Reach for the Stars, or the Olympians.

Stories of friends and favorite shows were swapped while cookie decorating as old-school tunes blared. From Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to the “Macarena,” time was forgotten as friendships were struck, silly pictures with wigs taken at photo booths, and conversations shared enjoying Librarian Mrs. Kelly Benning’s homemade petite sandwiches.

Wonder and awe ruled the celebration for athletes, adults and volunteers alike.

Spa treatment

Chaminade stylists treat a Special Olympian to a mini-makeover with some eye makeup before the big dance. Photo provided by Reach for the Stars, moderated by Religion Department instructor Mrs. Jenni Porter. Photo dated Jan. 20, by Sarah Wong ’14.