Yuba City High School senior Isabelle has an impressive list of accomplishments.
She is a 4.0 student who has completed a handful of college courses; she is an eight-year soccer player with a number of individual and team awards; she is a member of numerous clubs, often taking on leadership roles; and the list goes on.
Out of all her accolades and outstanding feats listed on her curriculum vitae (CV), however, one recent mention stands out: a “personal legacy project.”
Isabelle, with guidance from the City of Yuba Youth Commission, was individually responsible for the creation of the Yuba Sutter Special Olympics Spring Shootout on February 24. The inaugural event allowed local Special Olympics athletes the chance to compete in preparation for the March regional competition and also generated more than $4,000 in donations for the organization.
“Isabelle was amazing and our athletes had such a wonderful time,” said T.J. Fetters, Special Olympics area director for Yuba and Sutter Counties. “This high school senior planned a perfect day and, after the games were over, presented a T-shirt to each athlete, coach and volunteer to remember this very successful event. She will always be remembered, not only for planning this event, but for the special person she is to our community!"
Although Isabelle had no preliminary connection to Special Olympics or people with intellectual disabilities, she has always expressed a desire to get involved with the organization. She was intrigued by watching Special Olympics and respected the athletes for overcoming obstacles and pursuing their passions. Since Isabelle is also a big basketball fan, the idea to host a local tournament seemed like a perfect fit.
Isabelle wanted to not only create a tournament that the athletes could participate in ahead of the regional competition, but also an event that would financially support Yuba Sutter Special Olympics. She connected with her youth commission liaison, Kelsey Myers, who then brought in Fetters. After a few meetings and discussions a plan was set, and Isabelle took the initiative to go out into the community in order to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics.
“With the help of my parents, I was able to go door-to-door of local businesses, trying to sell them my event and its worthiness for donations,” explained Isabelle. “As an aspiring business major, I wanted to really learn about marketing the event and myself to others by having a true conversation. Despite this being my first shot at any type of event, I ended pretty strong by bringing in $4,225 with all proceeds going to Special Olympics. Without the help of my parents, Kelsey, T.J., and all the local businesses who supported, this event wouldn't have been possible. I’m forever grateful to all of them and all their hard work!”
Through Isabelle’s efforts, dozens of athletes took part in a fun and exciting event, and hundreds more will be able to participate in Special Olympics thanks to the money raised.
And she hopes that this is just the beginning.
“My long-term goal is for the Yuba City Youth Commission to take this event into their own hands and continue it for the following years to come,” said Isabelle. “For this event, I was able to get a lot of kids from my high school involved, as well as my fellow other commissioners. That type of involvement from local students was exactly what I wanted, and I really hope other students will get involved in this event and the community as a whole as the years go on.”
Isabelle will attend Arizona State University next year to study business (law) and plans to connect with the city of Tempe and Special Olympics Arizona to implement new ideas and get students more involved. She encourages other students to get active in their own respective communities and use the resources around them – whether it be a youth commission, high school club, or other organization – to accomplish their ideas.
For her, it’s all worth it to support the athletes.
“My favorite part of Special Olympics would be the joy it brings the athletes,” she said. “Seeing them prepare with such enthusiasm and excitement has been a really heart-warming experience.”