EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – It might look like a competition, but one of the best parts is everyone walks away with a gold medal.
Athletes from across the state came to the Pioneer Valley this weekend to compete in the 32nd Annual Special Olympics state-wide summer games. The weekend’s events began on Saturday, and ended Sunday afternoon. Athletes had a chance to participate in softball, bocce, golf, cycling and fishing.
The Olympic-style event first began in other parts of the country back in 1968. The games give people with intellectual disabilities a chance to develop athletic skills, demonstrate courage, and of course, socialize with their new friends.
More than 75- athletes from across Massachusetts signed up to participate in this year’s Special Olympics Summer Games, an event that’s not only fun for them, but inspiring for everyone around them.
Shannon Largey volunteered for the games, but it wasn’t her first time. She told 22News she fell so in love with the organization the first time she volunteered two years ago. “There’s so many lessons that you can learn from these kids. There’s so many times that we just get so drowned out in our own day to day lives that it’s just kind of refreshing you know, just be happy, that’s all you have to be is happy,” she said.
Shannon was just one of the weekend’s 237-volunteers. Pio Romao, who’s also a volunteer said he’s reminded year after year that sometimes, life can be all about fun and games. “One of the things I think is most interesting is seeing the excitement not just for their own successes, but for each others. The support that you see is just so refreshing,” he said.
As for the athletes, they look forward to the Special Olympics just as much as the volunteers do. Carl Hanson told 22News, it’s one of his favorite parts of the year. “It’s not like you’re going to the doctors, you’re not going to the dentist, you’re having fun with your friends. And your coaches. We’re having a blast, and it never gets old,” he said.
For more information on the Special Olympics, CLICK HERE