Special Olympics athletes take the gold when it comes to sportsmanship

The heart of Special Olympics is putting ability over disability

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Today was the perfect field day for nearly 100 kids who competed in Northampton’s Special Olympics games this afternoon.

Rachel Bishop, 16, and a Special Olympics athlete told 22News on the field of Northampton High School Thursday, “It makes me feel happy, and I never give up.” That’s the mission of Special Olympics Massachusetts: inspiring kids with intellectual disabilities to tap into their fullest athletic potential – while having fun, of course.

“It’s exactly that, it’s putting ability over disability,” says Special Olympics Massachusetts sports manager John Scully. “Just giving them the opportunity to achieve and see their success and how they can grow is phenomenal, it’s absolutely fantastic.”

About 95 kids participated from nine western Massachusetts school districts. They competed in track and field events like relay races, softball throwing, and the long-jump. Paula Gudell, whose son competed in this year’s games, says, “Over the years, you see the kids grow and also the volunteers and the teachers.”

Beyond athleticism, it’s about developing sportsmanship. “It makes me feel joyful, because I don’t see these friends every day. No matter who I am, I’m always ready,” says Bishop.

Cade Holden, 20, told 22News on a scale of 1 to 10, the amount of fun he had was a 10 out 10. When asked why he likes sports so much, specifically the long-jump, he said, “Because I know a lot of it, and sports is my thing.” And hey, with that attitude, how could you not feel like a winner.

Click here to learn more about our regional Special Olympics.