LUBBOCK, Texas — Energy was at an all-time high as fans cheered on their athletes.
“As I’m sure you can see on camera, it’s raining, it’s cold, the wind was picked up earlier, so we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know who was going to come out,” said Ashley Pena, the Associate Executive Director for the West Texas chapter of Special Olympics Texas.
But the community bundled up to show their support.
“We just started seeing patrol units show up, families getting out of their vehicles and standing out here in the cold and rain, so this exceeded my expectations,” said Pena.
The event meant more than the cold weather to those participating for the first time.
“It’s just a fun experience that we get to see the kids having fun and doing their best at their sporting event, and it’s just so exciting to see them have fun,” said Dakota Keith, a volunteer.
The event was canceled last year because of COVID, but despite the setbacks, the organization is growing.
“It has been a challenge this year, but I would also say it is an advantage now that we are starting to come out of COVID a little bit. Everybody wants to be a part of something that involves social activities. It’s really growing fast,” Said Tim Martin, CEO/ President at Special Olympics Arizona.
The long year of training and built-up anticipation was worth the wait for those competing.
“I don’t remember the date, but I’ve been training for a while. I did the four-by-one relay and the hundred-meter dash,” Trey Lorimer, athlete.
Plenty of people walked away feeling like a winner and felt grateful to get to see their friends again.