by: Diana Davis Updated:
MILTON, Ga. - A Milton family says they're shocked and angry their disabled son isn't being allowed to participate in this year's Special Olympics.
Hayden Moore has been participating in the Special Olympics since junior high. He was born with autism, and the Moores said he’s struggled with the disability since childhood. His father and stepmother told Davis the Special Olympics have always been his chance to shine.
“This is the one day of the year where he is not the spectator. He’s not in the stands. He’s the one that the quote unquote typical child or children are cheering and clapping for,” said the teen’s father, J. Andre Moore.
The Moores said this year, they were told Hayden can’t participate because of his status in school. He had been an 11th grader at Alpharetta High School, but has received home services for the last several months after an emotional incident at school.
Officials with Fulton County Schools told Davis that Special Olympics policy bars participation if a child has not attended classes in the last eight weeks.
“It’s like, ‘Well, if we do it for one child, we have to do it for every child.’ So what? This is their one day of the year,” said J. Andre Moore.
The Moores are trying to get the national Special Olympics organization to reconsider. The games are Friday, and the Moores told Davis they've organized all their Facebook friends to call on the teen’s behalf.
Davis reached out to the woman the Moores said is in charge of the Special Olympics games, but has yet to receive a response.
The Moores said even if their son’s situation is technically against the guidelines, they're hoping someone can make an exception to give him his moment of glory.
“It doesn't matter if they finish first or last, they all get something saying, 'Hey, look at what I did,’'” stepmother Kimberly Moore said.
The Moores told Davis they haven't had the heart to tell the teen yet. They’re hoping something will change before Friday’s games.