COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Special Olympics South Carolina Summer Games may be canceled for 2020, but that’s not stopping athletes statewide from staying in shape and staying connected.
During this quarantine period, we’ve talked a lot about our “vulnerable populations,” like our older neighbors susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and having serious complications. But what about socially vulnerable populations? Specifically, our friends and neighbors who are missing out on the interactions that help them be their absolute best selves.
That’s the case for Special Olympians across our state. Thankfully, the internet is readily available and allowing them to be creative in staying connected.
Instead of preparing for the Summer Games and the Law Enforcement Torch Run, we’re lighting up the broadband.
“We stay home because of the virus,” said athlete Rachel Lewis.
Lewis competes in the Summer Games every year, but due to COVID-19, this year she’s gone from athlete to coach. She’s a health messenger for athletes across the state and posting workouts online for other athletes.
Rachel's mom, Cyndi, helps her come up with creative ways to make the workouts home-approved, but it’s not just about staying active. Cyndi said this time has been hard on athletes who rely on Special Olympics for all things social.
“Special Olympics is the one outlet that they have,” Cyndi said. “It’s the one place or event where they actually get to go. It’s one of the few times that Rachel can get on a bus and go stay somewhere with Mom and Dad.”
Instead, Rachel will flip on her camera. We got to catch up with Rachel and her teammate Ashley Workman, another athlete, over a Zoom call. Normally, they exercise a healthy level of competition. Now, they’re spreading a message we could all use to hear.
“It’s not always about winning,” said Rachel.
While the spirit of competition might be on hold, this line is open.
“When the world opens, we can do something... hangout,” Rachel said.
“I would love that. Indeed,” Ashley said. “Stay safe. Workout. Call me if you need me I’ll be there 24/7.”
Special Olympic athletes can access the workouts by going to Special Olympics South Carolina’s Facebook page.