SEATTLE — The 2020 Special Olympics State Spring games scheduled for June have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But Special Olympics officials and local law enforcement are still doing their best to keep the athletes encouraged and inspired during isolation.
This week, Special Olympics athlete Frankie from Seattle celebrated his 30th birthday in style. His family, friends, and even deputies from the King County Sheriff's Office turned out to celebrate all while practicing social distancing.
“I had tears in my eyes because I didn't know how it's going to turn out and it turned out more than I expected. This has been amazing to Frankie,“ said Frankie’s mom Vivian Armstrong.
The extra attention is just what Frankie needed because, with no Special Olympics spring games, no practices, and no time with his teammates, Frankie has been sad.
“The thing about our athletes is it's such a social thing, I mean if you talk to the athletes, the competition is important, but if you say 'hey what's the best thing about Special Olympics?' It's always 'getting to be with my friends.' So, that's really hard and it's really hard for coaches and families when you have athletes that don’t understand why,” said Dave Lennox from Special Olympics.
“It's horrible for them because this is really their social connection to the community as well as each other," said King County Deputy Kristi Bridgman, who has been visiting with athletes during the pandemic. "Otherwise, once they age out of school, if they're not going to school, what else do they have if they're not working, so Special Olympics is a way for them to come together, do something fun and have friends."
The athletes are not only missing out on social fun, but they're also not getting in their workouts with their teams. But Deputy Bridgman is helping to change that by stopping by athlete's homes and doing workouts with them. She says 10 jumping jacks a day is pretty simple but it's also effective.
“It's 10 a day. So she comes by and does exercises with him [Frankie] like twice a week and he loves it," said Frankie's mom Vivian. "He just doesn't understand why he can't go and hug people, because he loves to hug and high five people. He is not understanding that."
While there won't be any spring games this year, there will be a torch run.
Local law enforcement will host a virtual torch run on June 6, and this year they want as many people to get involved as possible and help raise funds for Special Olympics athletes.