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Sleepy Hollow High School Students Selected For 2015 Special Olympics

From left, Brendan Murphy, Hunter Burnett, Coach Kim Kaczmarek and student/athletes Ming Qiang Li and Felix Veloz.
From left, Brendan Murphy, Hunter Burnett, Coach Kim Kaczmarek and student/athletes Ming Qiang Li and Felix Veloz. Photo Credit: Contributed

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- Four Sleepy Hollow High School students and athletes will represent their community and their country in Unified Basketball at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Los Angeles in July 2015.

Hunter Burnett, Brendan Murphy, Felix Veloz and Ming Qiang Li, who are coached by Kim Kaczmarek and Bonnie Berry, are currently training for their appearance on the World Olympics stage.

Murphy, Li and Burnett are all seniors and Veloz is a junior. Kaczmarek has been coaching Pioneer Special Olympic teams since 2000 and Berry since 2007. "I was contacted by the Hudson Valley Special Olympics and asked to put a team together for a slot for New York State for a Unified Men’s Basketball team for consideration for World Games 2015," Kaczmarek said.

"We didn’t have enough players at Sleepy Hollow for a full team based on their criteria so we reached out to Brewster High School, which also participates in Unified Basketball." Between the two schools, the Hudson Valley squad was able to fulfill the requirements of a 10-person team that includes five Special Olympians and five partners. The team will train locally and then move on to a national training center in October to work alongside other United States athletes.

"It's been great," Burnett said. "I never expected to be playing in Special Olympics and now  we're going to the World Games. My family supported me from the first day I decided to be part  of the program." Murphy said he knew the coming year and the journey to the World Games would give all of the  players something to remember. "We were all involved in the Special Olympics Games at Sleepy Hollow last year," said Murphy. "That was a great experience. But going to the World Games is something really special. This is the real deal. We're going to enjoy it."

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