The Pickaway County Special Olympics offers individuals the chance to experience the camaraderie and sense of belonging that comes through athletic activities.
Along with everything else during the pandemic in 2020, the Special Olympics didn’t have any sports.
“It was probably more difficult for our athletes than most people,” Special Olympics Coordinator Jeremy Joyce said. “For some of the people, it’s the only time they can see some of their friends or somebody they know get out in the community.”
Joyce said when the Special Olympics went away, pretty much any of their community options disappeared.
“We provide the individuals with developmental disabilities to participate in sports,” Joyce said. “We do basketball, softball, golf and track and field.”
No matter what sport the participant chooses, the athlete never pays any cost for anything.
“The Special Olympics covers all the cost,” Joyce said.
Joyce said the organization has around 75 athletes and between the four sports the Special Olympics runs all tear round.
“It’s throughout the year,” Joyce said. “Track and field starts in the spring and runs the end of June. Golf started June 1 and runs into September, softball starts after the 4th of July and runs through September and basketball is played in the winter it starts Novemberish and ends in February,”
“We play other county organizations,” Joyce sad. “We play Fayette County, Madison County and Fairfield County has a couple organizations we can play against.”
As far as golf goes, they do not compete against other county teams, but practice every week at the Pickaway Golf Course.
“The golf course is super to good to us,” Joyce said. “We made a deal and they let out athletes play for pretty nice discounted price. The golf course is a great partner. “
The Pickaway County Olympics were unable to host any basketball or softball games this season, but they used the Everts Center gym for basketball practice and Barthelmas Park for softball practice.
“We have a great group of volunteers and the community really gets behind us,” Joyce said. We’re always looking for more volunteers.”
Joyce said that that one the hardest things is getting people to help, but the people that do help really do care.
The Track and Field State Championship will be at Ohio State University the last weekend in June. To qualify for the State Meet, participants must first compete in the Special Olympics Regional Meet; Joyce expects to have about ten athletes competing in the State Meet.