Giving Back

Morris Knolls Leo Club Hosts Special Olympics

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Leo's Challenge awards ceremony Credits: Megan Roche
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Thomas Leonardo (white) accepts his medal and ribbon at Leo's Challenge Credits: Megan Roche
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Rachel Cohen prepares bowling pins for Leo's Challange Bowlers Credits: Megan Roche
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DENVILLE-- The Morris Knolls High School gymnasium was packed on April 26 with parents, students, volunteers, and children for a great cause: The Leo Club's Leo's Challenge, which is an event that mimics the special olympics on a local level. 

The participants in Leo's Challenge take part in fun and kid friendly games and this year was no different. The kids were spread out in the gym at Morris Knolls High School playing volleyball, basketball, bowling and just running around and interacting with eachother. Morris Knolls High School junior Rachel Cohen has been a member of the Leo Club since freshman year, happy to give back to the community.

"This event is really enjoyable for me. I love to watch the kids run around and interact with eachother. They have a great time and so do we as volunteers."

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The Leo Club, is sponsored by the Lions Club, and its purpose is to inspire volunteerism and leadership.  The groups members are dedicated to doing community service and helping those who are less fortunate.

Leo Club hosts a wide variety of events through the year. In December, they host a Christmas party for families who may not be able to afford Christmas presents, where they also cook a huge dinner. In the summer months, they clean up a camp so that people can enjoy the site. However, their biggest event is that of Leo's Challenge. 

Co-President of the Leo Club, Julie Trien has also been a member since her freshman year at Morris Knolls High School. She enjoys being able to give back and help create a sense of community between the two high schools and the towns.

"Helping others come together is so important. Leo's Challenge is my favorite event that we put on every year. It's so much fun and we help build a better community in the process." Trien said. 

Leo's Challenge also takes place outside on the football field. The kids have a chance to throw some softballs around as well as enjoy bounce houses. On hand to assist at Leo's Challenge are many people, including staff from both Morris Knolls and Morris Hills High Schools, athletic directors, varsity sports teams, coaches, and even the mayor from Rockaway Township.

There are also no losers at Leo's Challenge. Every person who participates gets a medal and a ribbon. Each child is also matched up with a "buddy" that stays with them the entire day and helps them with each event they want to try. The event is one of the biggest events that Leo Club hosts and is well recieved by all those in attendance. 

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