This past Saturday, one of the most anticipated sporting events in the area, the Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) Tri-Valley Regional Spring Games, was hosted at Crescenta Valley High School. In its eighth consecutive year at the high school, over 300 participants aged 8 to 88 competed in track and field, basketball, and bocce.
The day’s festivities kicked off with the Opening Ceremony at around 9 a.m. in which the participating delegations’ athletes and coaches engaged in a proud parade around the track. Delegations included Glendale, Santa Clarita, Ventura, and Antelope Valley, among many others.
Ever-present was the track and field athletes’ excitement before the games had begun as they mingled for the first time with their Track Buddies. A large majority of these volunteers were students from the host school, CVHS.
After being assigned to their respective delegations, the Track Buddies’ responsibilities include pairing up with an athlete and accompanying him or her throughout the day to each event. In addition, each Track Buddy is a source of motivation and support for the athletes, providing constant encouragement and forming a foundation of mutual respect.
The Games officially began at 10 a.m. with a wide variety of events, from shot put to softball throw and everything in between, and a sense of fierce yet friendly competition as athletes cheered one another on. Due to the nature of diversity in age, SOSC events are designed to accommodate athletes in all walks of life. Each athlete has the opportunity to participate in events that comfortably suit his or her abilities and well-reflect his or her athletic potential.
Since 1968, Special Olympics has been giving athletes the opportunity to compete in a supportive environment, acquiring a multitude of community support. As the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics is a vital component in the recognition of athletic talent in all types of people, allowing them to recognize their inner strengths and capabilities and share them with the world.
After competing in each event, the athletes celebrated their triumphs by being presented their medals by the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, ultimately leading to joyful smiles and delightfully candid photo ops. For the rest of the day, the athletes proudly displayed their victories around their necks in the form of bronze, silver, and gold medals. There was no shortage of high-fives, hugs, and applause shared with the competitors.
As a Track Buddy in this year’s Games, my own personal experience demonstrated firsthand the importance of overcoming challenges in the form of intellectual disabilities. Seeing the athletes conquer their disadvantages, learn to adapt, and move forward was truly inspirational and will eternally continue to influence my outlook on life for the better.
This opportunity also highlighted the positive influence of respect and support, and reminding each and every person of the unparalleled value they have as members of society. I was even able to make a new friend throughout the process who from now on will be a familiar face in the hallways, as we are coincidentally students at the same school.
After an incredible experience at the SOSC Tri-Valley Regional Spring Games, I look forward to next year’s competition and the little successes it will bring.