RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX 18) – Special Olympics athletes from all over the Bluegrass are at EKU this weekend for the 2019 summer games.
Athletes ages 8 and older have been preparing to compete all year, and the younger kids even got a chance to join in on the fun.
This year’s summer games included the first ever Young Athletes Festival.
Kids ages 2 to 7 train all year for many of the events, getting prepared for the real deal.
“When you turn eight, you get to go on the big track and you have the gun sound. And you run without parents. So we get them used to doing all that fun stuff,” said Brittin Diguette ,the director of STRIDE, which stands for Supporting Therapeutic Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities Everyday.
The festival had six stations set up with events like bowling, basketball, and running.
Athletes are competing all weekend at the Kentucky Special Olympics! This was the first year for the Young Athletes Festival. Kids ages 2-7 are having a great time practicing all the events! 😊 #adorable @LEX18News pic.twitter.com/p7wst3vayN
— Alexa Helwig (@AlexaHelwig) June 1, 2019
Karen Parsley led the event held on Saturday.
She says it’s gives the younger athletes an inclusive experience and a taste of the summer games.
Parents and coaches say the festival was a success.
“Watching them excel is amazing. Our first practice we’re usually running all over the place and not even in our lanes. By the time we get here, we’re running in the lanes and counting. They’re helping each other and cheering each other on,” said Diguette.
“We get to see these athletes quite a bit. A lot of our athletes as they age up into competition, they are multi-sport athletes,” said Parsley.
To learn more about how you can support the Special Olympics of Kentucky: click here.