Valley Special Olympics Athletes compete in Shenandoah Super Games

Special Olympics hosted in the Valley.
Published: Oct. 9, 2022 at 6:24 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Special Olympics athletes from the Shenandoah Valley competed Sunday morning for the Shenandoah Super Games.

Athlete Benji is all smiles after soccer skills.
Athlete Benji is all smiles after soccer skills.(WHSV)

Athletes competed in soccer, volleyball and bocce, along with skills competitions. Most athletes, like Benji, were all smiles after they competed.

“I love it,” he said.

Benji participates in soccer skills, along with bowling. He has been competing in Special Olympics for about 40 years.

For athletes, Special Olympics are all about learning, having a good time and cheering on teammates and competition alike. For some, the games may even take them places.

“I went in 2011 to Athens, Greece, for Bocce,” said Jennifer Ruley, who serves as an athlete and a coach.

Whether it’s your very first competition or if you’ve got decades under your belt, you’ve always got a cheerleader at Special Olympics.

“I think it’s really great to see everyone is just getting out here and having fun and encouraging the sportsmanship between everyone,” said volunteer Maddie Magill with Bridgewater Women’s Lacrosse.

Many athletes meet weekly to run their skills and practice, so they can bring home a ribbon at the end of the day. Volunteers may not get an award, but it’s all worth it.

“There’s not enough words in a day to explain all that – the feeling, it’s so heartwarming. Just seeing them out on the field and actually participating in something it’s... words can’t describe it. You have to be here to get that feeling,” said Area 5 Coordinator Alan Cale.

Ruley said anyone considering Special Olympics should give it a try.

“Athletes that are special needs, they can come join. Just have to get a medical [release] and you can come have fun and enjoy yourself,” said Ruley.

For more on Virginia Special Olympics, click here.

A team strategizes during half time.
A team strategizes during half time.(WHSV)