By Sam Shapiro
ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) – Special Olympics New York came to Ithaca this weekend for the State Summer Games after COVID postponed the last two years of competition.
On Saturday, thousands of athletes from Special Olympics New York could participate in basketball, bowling, gymnastics, powerlifting, swimming, tennis, volleyball, and Track & Field events. Festivities kicked off with Opening Ceremonies last night at 7 p.m., with the slate of sports happening all day Saturday. The games are the largest statewide competition of the year for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
“Our athletes are excited to be back,” Michaela Darbyshire, Associate Director of Development at Special Olympics New York, said. “I always say it is one thing to hear them talk about the sports they love, and it’s another thing to watch in person.”
Sponsors across New York helped the nonprofit generate proceeds from the event, which funds athletic expenses for athletes. Coach Amber Mott expressed the importance of providing these resources for athletes.
“Those proceeds stay in the state of New York for all of our athletes so they don’t have to pay for anything that goes into them coming to State Games,” Mott said. “There’s no cost to be able to compete and have a great time for the weekend.”
Athletes competed at various locations throughout the day. While some were at Ithaca High School for Track & Field events, others went to the Ithaca College Hill Center for some volleyball and gymnastics. Participants were also bowling at Midway Lanes in Vestal, New York, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Powerlifting and tennis ran throughout the day in the Fitness Center and Tennis Courts on campus. Basketball and swimming were also happening at the A&E Center. Many participants were excited to jump back into the field of the competition after COVID canceled the games the past two summers.
“Competition was amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Kinsey Henry, Track & Field Athlete at Special Olympics New York, said. “I’m grateful the Special Olympics finally came to Ithaca.”
Athletes, coaches, and spectators can look forward to the 2022 State Fall Games this October in Glens Falls, N.Y. More information on where people can donate is on the Special Olympics New York website.