CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The Southeast Area Special Olympics kicked off on Monday morning at Cape Central High School.
Due to COVID-19, the Special Olympics was canceled in April 2020.
Everyone was more than ready to go this season.
“They call my office every week. When do we get to come back? We want to come back. A lot of them have had their vaccinations and they’re good to go, so we are extremely excited to be able to host today,” said Penny Williams, development director for the Southeast Area Special Olympics.
More than 15 agencies from 14 counties participated in Monday’s events.
“These guys work very hard and they train for this competition. They look forward to it every year,” Williams said. “Many of them will achieve their personal bests. We are just excited to be hosting today and to be a part of it.”
The athletes have been training hard for eight weeks leading up to the events, which include the types of events that are offered at a Missouri State Athletic track meet. There are running, jumping and throwing events with some modifications for those with special needs so that everyone can participate.
Some of Monday’s participants will have the opportunity to advance to the state competition, which will take place in Columbia, Mo. in June.
“It’s so important to create an atmosphere of teamwork,” Williams said. “Everybody needs to know that feeling, that good feeling, of traveling with your friends to a location and being able to compete and do your very best and to be able to feel that pride associated with that. Special Olympics gives that opportunity.”
After being canceled in 2020, the games had a change of venue this year. Typically, they are inside but were moved outside this year to promote social distancing so that everyone can have a safe experience.