It is change into a summer time custom in Madison County.
Athletes from throughout the state flocked to the campus of Jap Kentucky College the primary weekend in June for the Particular Olympics Kentucky State Summer time Video games.
The occasion has been held in Richmond for 25 consecutive years.
That streak will quickly come to an finish, sadly.
Particular Olympics Kentucky introduced earlier this month the 2020 Summer time Video games had been canceled due to the COVID-19 disaster.
The occasion was scheduled for June 5 by means of 7.
“It actually was, truthfully, heartbreaking to make that call,” mentioned Mark Buerger, director of communications and exterior relations for Particular Olympics Kentucky. “We had been confronted with no different actually good choices.”
Many different organizations have needed to make the identical tough selections in latest weeks.
Particular Olympics Kentucky officers weren’t solely involved in regards to the issues with social distancing and restrictions on giant gatherings, they had been decided to guard the integrity of the competitions.
Athletes are required to coach and compete in regional occasions main as much as the state video games.
That hasn’t been doable for nearly the previous two months.
“As soon as they weren’t allowed to observe after which we weren’t allowed to carry our spring qualifiers, there was no method we had been going to have the ability to the maintain Summer time Video games in a method that was accountable to this system and our athletes and the work they do each day,” Buerger mentioned.
There are greater than 11,000 Particular Olympics athletes in Kentucky, competing in 15 athletic actions.
“We have now athletes from virtually each county within the state,” Buerger mentioned.
That features a very robust native contingent.
The Madison County Particular Olympics has greater than 100 athletes, ranging in age from eight to 54, who compete year-round in six sports activities — monitor and area, basketball, golf, softball, flag soccer and bowling.
Not all of these athletes compete within the annual Summer time Video games, however the occasion definitely has further significance to these hooked up to the Madison County group.
“We have now numerous volunteers who assist out and take part any method they’ll on the Summer time Video games,” mentioned Jamie Moore of Madison County Particular Olympics. “We’re there a number of days earlier than once they begin establishing and are there on the finish to scrub up. We’re very a lot aside of the occasion.”
Moore says she is aware of that the cancellation of the Summer time Video games and all different Particular Olympic actions has been robust on everybody within the group.
“I’ve had lot of athletes message me, asking me when we’re going to get going once more,” Moore mentioned. “Everybody desires to see their associates and get lively once more.”
The Particular Olympics Kentucky State Summer time Video games options round 1,400 athletes competing in 5 sports activities — monitor and area, swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer and bocce.
The group holds many state-wide occasions in different sports activities, most notably bowling, however the journey to Richmond yearly is one thing everybody seems to be ahead to.
“It is probably the most thrilling weekend of the yr,” Buerger mentioned. “Richmond and EKU are the non secular coronary heart of our program. We have spent half of our program’s existence there.”
The Particular Olympics Kentucky State Summer time Video games migrated across the commonwealth for greater than twenty years, altering areas each two years.
Till the occasion discovered a everlasting house at EKU.
“Our athletes, households and volunteers stay up for coming to Richmond yearly, and there is good purpose for that. It is as a result of town and the college have handled us so properly for each a kind of earlier 25 years,” mentioned Trish Mazzoni, president/CEO of Particular Olympics Kentucky. “Each journey to Richmond looks like coming house. We’re deeply grateful for town’s annual welcome and hospitality. We are going to miss you all this yr, and we will not wait to see you in 2021.”
The video games will return to Richmond.
The cancellation for this yr, although, is disappointing to the athletes for a lot of causes.
They will not get to compete, after all, however additionally they will not get a few of the added advantages of this system.
Annually, Particular Olympics Kentucky performs host to a Wholesome Athlete Wellness Village on the summer time occasion, the place athletes can undergo six completely different screening providers — dental, imaginative and prescient, listening to, podiatry, flexibility and powerful minds.
“We give away free glasses by means of our Opening Eyes Program,” Buerger. “So, that is simply one thing else that the athletes are going to overlook out on.”
The group is already placing into place a method for the general public to assist the Particular Olympics athletes in Kentucky.
A digital summer time video games in is the works and extra particulars might be accessible quickly.
“Folks can signal as much as be Champions for Particular Olympics,” Buerger mentioned. “There’s some actually easy fundraisers for individuals to honor the athletes.”
For extra info, go to the Particular Olympics Kentucky web site at soky.org/.