An inclusive sports program at Cheektowaga High School is bringing students together with Special Olympians.
- Cheektowaga High School program brings together students, Special Olympians
- Amy Zelasko, Jayden DuBard became friends through competition
- The pair support each other on and off the court
The “Unified Partners” program has brought together Special Olympics athlete Amy Zelasko and sophomore Jayden DuBard.
"We are the bestest of friends,” says DuBard.
They play basketball together and are both competitive and both want to win, but they also both want to open up a conversation.
"They are just the same as us,” says DuBard. “They are not different from us."
"I think it is really awesome that I get to be partners with Jayden," said Zelasko. "I think it will benefit everyone."
Amy is a basketball forward on the high school's Special Olympics team — and one of the team's best shooters. And Jayden is her basketball partner. Together they are the perfect pair, supporting each other on the court.
"We just have such a good bond,” said Jayden. “Seeing her progress every single time we have a practice or games makes me feel complete and people are seeing she is improving with her shooting."
The Special Olympics New York Unified Games are underwritten locally by Bryant & Stratton College.
But they also support each other off the court — even going to prom together last year.
"He's an amazing support system and I really love him a lot," said Zelasko.
And the difference they make for each other?
“Oh my God, where do I even start," said Jayden. "My whole life has changed since I met Amy."
"He is amazing," added Zelasko.
Their next basketball game is Monday, May 13 at 5 p.m. at Cheektowaga High School.