Readying themselves for the race, athletes from many differing circumstances line up. The anticipation builds as the signal approaches. All at once, the group darts off the starting line in excitement with family and friends cheering them on. This is a sight that can be seen at the many Special Olympics events happening around this time of year.
Last year, UVU got involved in the Special Olympics when a club was started by Andrew Goates, who continues to be the president this year.
“Our eventual goal is to have a Special Olympics team by next spring,” Goates said. “For now we are just cheering and keeping score, but we’ll be looking for athletes soon.”
Goates learned about the team at BYU and has been working to bring more and more of this festivity to UVU students through the club.
“I never get tired of going to the events,” Goates said.
Tyler Navarro is a member of the Special Olympics club this year. Navarro is an exercise science major and started participating in the club at the beginning of the semester.
“This is my first time in a club and my first time being involved in Special Olympics,” Navarro said.
On Friday and Saturday at the University of Utah, there was a two-day Special Olympics event. Navarro was able to participate in keeping score at the basketball games.
“It was just a good family and friend environment. Family was cheering from the sides and there was lots of support,” Navarro said.
Some of the beginning games weren’t so competitive, but according to Navarro, later on in the bracket, it got competitive.
“It was everything I expected it to be,” Navarro said. “It was competitive, but one thing that caught me off guard was how competitive it was. I was really getting into the game.”
One thing that stuck out to Navarro from his experience participating was a specific game in which a girl named October was playing.
“There was this girl named October who had Down syndrome,” Navarro said. “She shot the ball over and over again and even though she wouldn’t make it in, her teammates kept giving her the ball. As soon as she made one she was just so excited.”
Navarro said that although it was in the midst of the game, after the girl scored, one of her teammates ran up from the sidelines to give her a hug.
Both Goates and Navarro are excited to see where the club will go from here.