Special Olympics Washington is making history in a somewhat disappointing winter.
President and CEO David Wu says there’s roughly 20,000 individuals who compete in the games, but due to health concerns with the COVID-19 omicron variant, the Winter Games have been reimagined.
“Our athletes are six time more vulnerable to dying from COVID because of other complications that they have, so we have to take significant precautions to protect out athletes,” Wu said.
The Winter Games will be celebrated in smaller community and regional competitions. The spirit of inclusion is stronger than ever.
Wu says the organization is excited to make history by naming one of their athletes to become the chair of the board of directors.
“Kelly Campbell has been an athlete for the majority of her life. This will be the first chair of our board to be an athlete.”
Campbell says she’s competed for over 30 years. When she’s not working at PCC Community market she’s training.
“I eat, breathe and sleep Special Olympics," Campbell said.
She’s disappointed that the traditional Winter Games aren’t happening this year, but is excited to be the voice of inclusion for so many of her fellow athletes.
“It means I get to share my voice and be a voice for others,” Campbell said.
Campbell admits she has received so many medals from competition that she lost track years ago.
“I’m more confident now and I want to speak up for people and be a role model,” Campbell said.
A Polar Plunge is set for Feb. 26 on Alki Beach and supports athletes who will represent Team Washington at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Game in Orlando in June.