In­ter­na­tional Special Olympian dances for KIES pre-k, kin­der­garten stu­dents

Record Observer - - Community - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY DOUG BISHOP

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.

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