Team Fairfield to participate in Summer Games
Fairfield’s Special Olympics team will be sending 11 athletes to participate in the Iowa Summer Games in Ames.
In order to reach that achievement, Team Fairfield first competed at the Spring Games in Oskaloosa on April 12. Those who finished in first place in their chosen events are moving on to the Summer Games and received blue ribbons.
The games were at William Penn University’s Penn Activity Center, therefore the participants were able to race inside and stay out of the elements. The important thing, however, according to Team Fairfield volunteer Kayla Stanley, is the athletes get to continue to have fun and thrive in an extremely supportive environment.
Stanley started volunteering four years ago at the Special Olympics. She was instantly hooked. She loved the positivity of the supporters and the bravery of the athletes.
“To experience so much support and adoration in one place is very encouraging,” Stanley said. “It gives you an unexplainable joy to see the smiles on everyone’s faces, to witness the purpose it gives them to be a part of something, and to see just how incredible everyone makes each other feel.”
The athletes themselves are not necessarily encouraged to win each race. That’s not what the Special Olympics is all about. Supporters cheer on everyone no matter what name is on their chest, and participating is a victory all on its own.
“We do not take them to competitions for blue ribbons or gold medals, we take them so that they can be a part of something great,” Stanley said. “We take them with the expectation that everyone will do their very best and no matter what place they get, they [make] us proud just for trying.”
It means a lot to the Team Fairfield athletes that they get to keep competing into the spring.
“It means that we get to continue celebrating our athlete’s accomplishments and offering them the support we did before their blue ribbons,” Stanley said. “The ones who didn’t advance aren’t any less involved either. Their role is to be cheerleaders for their fellow teammates, which is just as important of a job as actually competing.”
Team Fairfield will compete May 22-24 at the Summer Games in Ames. After those games, the team takes a hiatus from competition until October.