Over the span of 2 days, 280 Special Olympians participated in 37 rowing races at the Grand Traverse Resort. It was truly heartwarming to see “Special Olympians” participate in a sport that we love. All athletes were smiling, happy, joyful and a bit competitive. Some of the athletes had difficulty getting onto their ergs, strapping their feet into the foot stretchers and reaching for the handle to begin their race. Our wonderful TACR volunteers guided the athletes into their seats and gave them a quick tutorial of rowing in such a compassionate and caring way. The athletes loved hearing you call them by their name and cheering for them as they raced 2 minutes against their 8 competitors. When the race was about to start they all stopped moving. They were waiting for the words…Ready, Attention, Go! Then all 8 of the rowers raced each other, watching themselves on the big screen. Everyone cheering for them! Spectators could see the athletes progress. I remember one rower, rowing along and without stopping fist pumping. Another athlete told me it was her birthday, “Jessica”. Everyone was wishing Jessica a happy birthday. There were no quitters, all champions!
In case you missed volunteering this year, we will be doing this again next year. So, plan to volunteer with TACR at Special Olympics next year. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped the athletes, signed the athletes up for races, ran the rowing program, and transported equipment. A special thank you to Danette for organizing the entire project.