International Special Olympian dances for KIES pre-k, kindergarten students
STEVENSVILLE — International Special Olympics gold medalist Robert Wallop, 20, visited his former elementary school Friday, June 2, to give a special performance for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.
The former Kent Island Elementary School student was born with Down syndrome. Robert attended KIES from 2007 through 2009, and Ann Marie Peterson, who arranged the performance, was one of his teachers.
Wallop won his first international gold medal two years ago in the International Special Olympics Summer Fames in Los Angeles, California, in solo dance. Earlier this year, Wallop traveled to Darz, Austria, for the International Special Olympics Winter Games, again competing in solo dance and again winning the gold medal.
Before performing for the larger group on Friday, Wallop put on a small exhibition in Peterson’s classroom for her students. He replicated moves by Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. In the school’s multi-purpose room/gymnasium, he performed for a much larger audience of students, this time doing Latino dance moves to the excitement of the children who watched.
Wallop had his gold medals with him for the students to see as they filed out to return to their classrooms. He greeted them all at the doorway to providing and receiving highfives from the students.
Wallop is now an official “Global Messenger for the Special Olympics,” performing and asking for donations for other students to be able to go to the next International Special Summer Olympics, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates in 2019. Wallop plans to compete again. He’s following his passion — to dance.
Another of his former teachers told KIES students she remembered Wallop being in the lunch line at school, and “he was always dancing!” Little did anyone know where his passion to dance at that early age would eventually take him.
Wallop just graduated from Broadneck High School, in Anne Arundel County, where he and his parents moved for his high school years. His proud parents, Doug and Ann Wallop, both work in Annapolis.
On June 2, Wallop was happy to return to perform for his old elementary school and see many of his former teachers, especially Peterson. This was her final year of teaching special education students, retiring after 39 years in the local school system.
Wallop told her, “You haven’t changed!” to which Peterson asked, “Don’t I look a little older?” He replied, “A little, but you’r still the same person!” Peterson gave him a hug.
International Special Olympics solo dance gold medalist Robert Wallop, 20, visits Kent Island Elementary School, Friday afternoon, June 2, with his gold medals and the Special Olympics mascot in his lap. A 2007-2009 KIES student, Robert returned to perform his winning dance routine for the prekindergarten and kindergarten students.
Former Kent Island Elementary School student Robert Wallop, 20, returned to the school Friday afternoon, June 2, to perform his International Special Olympics gold medal solo dance routine for the pre-k and kindergarten students. Several of his former teachers were invited to join the dance routine with him.
Kent Island Elementary School students watch Robert Wallop perform his International Special Olympics gold medal dance routine, Friday afternoon, June 2, at the school.