MINNEAPOLIS -- Athletes, coaches, families, sponsors and volunteers of Special Olympics Minnesota will gather to honor Aaliyah Peake of Bemidji, at the 33rd annual Distinguished Service Awards on Saturday, Sept. 14, in Minneapolis. There are 12 award categories at the DSAs and Peake will be honored as the Outstanding Unified Partner.

A Unified Partner is someone without an intellectual disability who competes on a team made up of people with and without intellectual disabilities. Aaliyah Peake, 13, has been on the Bemidji Community Special Olympics team for over six years, starting her involvement by partnering with an individual with an intellectual disability as their bowling partner. Since then she has been involved with bocce, track and field, and swimming. She has competed in local, regional and state competitions, including swimming in this year’s Summer Games at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, a release said.

Peake went above and beyond her role as a Unified Partner this summer, assisting two athletes in practices and teaching them how to swim. These athletes had never let go of the pool wall before, but with Peake’s help, they were floating and swimming on their own by the end of the season, the release said.