The Virginia Special Olympics Summer Games returned to the University of Richmond last month, after being cancelled for the past two years due to the pandemic. Both athletes and volunteers were thrilled to participate in the event, which hosted over 1,000 Special Olympics athletes competing in softball, track & field, bowling, tennis, and swimming.
“To be able to compete, it felt like we were back,” said athlete Chelsea Gaughran, who took home first place in Softball and third in the running long jump. “We were back like a big family and able to laugh. It felt really good and really fun. I missed it so much and I know the others did too.”
The return to competition was also celebrated by volunteers, who look forward to the opportunity to help athletes succeed on and off the field.
“It was so nice to be back after all the events were cancelled for the past two years,” said Alisha Ferrell, who volunteered at the swimming event. “To interact with the athletes, that’s what it’s all about.”
For many, the Summer Games not only represented a return to play, but a return of the cherished memories associated with competing.
“My favorite moment was when I was sitting at the awards, and I saw my mom and smiled” Gaughran said.