Tristan Fillhart won a first-place medal, and shared his excitement of being at the Hudson Valley Special Olympics Regional Aquatics & Basketball Competition at Marist College March 24.
“I’m really excited because I didn’t know I was going to be in a college, and now I’m in a college and I’m happy,” said Fillhart, a fourth grader at Salt Point Center and one of 16 participants from Dutchess BOCES.
Fillhart’s grandmother, Mary Mackay, was one of his biggest supporters at Marist.
“He’s the love of my life,” she said. “I’m enjoying everything here, watching all these kids enjoy themselves and have a blast.
“I think Tristan is doing excellent. He loves this sport. He loves all the kids. He’s having a great time.” 
The Dutchess BOCES students represented the Salt Point Center and Pegasus program. The students, who participated in basketball skills competitions such as dribbling and shooting, were cheered on by family, friends, classmates, Dutchess BOCES staff and Marist student-athletes, who volunteered at the event.
Duane Sharrock, assistant principal of Salt Point Center, was there with other Salt Point Center staff members.
“It’s very exciting to be here, especially with the student response,” he said. “You forget sometimes how important it is to come to student events because they get so happy when they see you.”

This was the first time since COVID that Dutchess BOCES had students participating in this event. The students practiced their basketball skills with their Dutchess BOCES coaches on Tuesdays in the weeks prior to the event.

“It’s been wonderful to watch them grow,” said Tracey Smith, a special education teacher at BOCES and one of the coaches. “I want to see all smiles because this is something that is so important for them to have a chance to participate with their peers.”

Erin Scott, a special education teacher at Dutchess BOCES and a coach, organized a Dutchess BOCES team that raised over $9,000 at the Polar Plunge in February with the proceeds going to the Special Olympics. Some of the money raised at the Polar Plunge went toward the Hudson Valley Special Olympics Regional at Marist.

“It’s really nice to be back and see the kids smile,” said Scott. “We hope to be back every year.”


BOCES Medalists

First place: Tristan Fillhart, Amelia McGowen, Quinlan O’Neil, Jordan Smith, Robert Spaulding

Second place: Ethan Horton, Jonah Lloyd, Jacob Lloyd, Alliance Neal, Tyrese Williams

Third place: Dakota Colburn, Daniel Gonzalez

Participation award: Lisandro Martinez, Yaxiel Rivera, Daniel Sambolin