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Women from Chandler Honored for Merit in Unified Sports

Zach Alvira
sports editor

Mari Chawla’s passion for Unified Sports runs deep.

Her first involvement was in middle school. Although she was not athletic enough to play the sport herself, she wanted to make a difference with children with intellectual disabilities.She saw the happiness that her sport brought to those athletes. I enjoyed it and was just as happy to be a part of it.

Now, after several years of being involved, she’s paid off. The National Association of High School Scholars awarded her Chawla her 18 Under 18 Award, her $1,000 scholarship given to students under the age of 18 who spread positivity within their community.

“Honestly, it’s really special,” Chawla said. “I didn’t expect it. I applied for several scholarships here and there in hopes of winning one of them. did.

“It’s been very rewarding, especially since I’m passionate about Unified Sports. It was nice to see my passion take me somewhere.”

Chawla’s passion for caring for others stems from her father’s background as a doctor. She had heard several stories about various patients he had seen. He was also involved in a non-profit organization dedicated to helping adults with special needs, which led her to the University of Arizona, where she would pursue a degree in nursing. and is her freshman year.

Her caring nature led her to Unified Sports. In her sixth grade, when she finished her homework on Fridays, she was able to do arts and crafts in a special needs class. She then continued her involvement by joining a special needs club in middle school. That led her to her sport at Unified, where she played basketball, ran track with her players, and continued to support her players through Perry’s high school.

By the time she was in fourth grade, she was elected president of the school’s unified sports. She often led the team to warm-ups and encouraged them to have a high level of energy during play.

Being part of Unified Sports has been a fulfilling experience and Chawla is proud to see it grow rapidly across the state.

“It means a lot,” Chawla said. “I’ve seen it grow a lot over the years. In my senior year there were schools I had never heard of on the roster. Unified Sports was always unrecognized.” So it’s been hard for Perry, but this year, my mom told me that the football team supports the unified football team.

“So it’s not just the other schools that are involved. It’s the other sports in those schools that get into Unified. I love that aspect.”

Chawla was one of 18 students awarded the scholarship. She said she would use the money for her room and food in Arizona.

To be considered, she had to submit a video showcasing how their leadership style was contagious within the community. I had to show how to use passion.

The video included photos of her involvement in unified sports.

She plans to participate in unified sports again in college, but for now is trying to adjust to the college lifestyle and schedule. However, she plans to return to Unified Sports when she can.

“I’m still trying to get used to my all-time commitment,” Chawla said. “But I’m going to find a Special Olympics organization. I believe the U of A is very accessible and has a Paralympic basketball team. So I’ll try to help you with that.”