While COVID-19 has made for a fall with fewer Special Olympics Wisconsin activities than in a normal year, many SOWI athletes were able to find creative ways to stay engaged with the SOWI community and inspire others in new and unique ways this fall.
Our Outdoor Fall Sports Season gave many athletes the chance to compete in golf, bocce, cornhole or punt, pass and kick in new, safe and socially distant ways. Many athlete were able to stay connected with the SOWI community in other ways as well. At the conclusion of the Outdoor Fall Sports Season, athletes and fans celebrated with a two-day virtual celebration. Activities included games, fitness workshops, and even a dance.
The celebration concluded with an incredible interview segment where Ed Kastern of Oshkosh Special Olympics interviewed Olympic silver medalist speed skater Brian Hansen, followed by a moving closing ceremony hosted by Dave Hagens of West Madison Area Special Olympics and Jake Zydowsky of Silver Lake Special Olympics. The two best friends were finally able to reconnect at the Southern State Golf Tournament after months apart due to the pandemic.
The program celebrated the Outdoor Fall Sports Season, the athletes who competed in it, and all the SOWI athletes who have continued to endure a difficult year as the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched on.
The ceremony also highlighted fall fundraisers like the Big Red Raffle and the Virtual Run Series. The Virtual Run Series helped athletes get in on the action by running, walking, biking or riding to show support for SOWI. Six athletes also participated in a fun way during the final week of the month-long series.
As part of the final Run for Champions week, we selected six athletes from around the state for fans to rally around by joining their team. Cole Cleworth of Wisconsin Rapids, Isaiah Kasay of River Falls, Chris Jones of Neenah, Lindsay Schwabe of Madison, Tessie Fulton of Jackson, and Bennett Chart of New Berlin represented the 9,000+ Champions of SOWI.
Their teams helped finish the inaugural virtual event with a bang by raising almost $3,000!
While these champions were closing out October with the Virtual Run Series, Young Athlete Cody Zwicke was helping to promote the Young Athletes program in the Champions Together Breakfast on October 29. He and his mom, Tami, spoke with Vince Vitrano about what the program has meant to their family. Vitrano also spoke with former Packers all-pro Josh Sitton during the virtual event.
While this fall has certainly looked very different for the athletes of SOWI, with a little creativity they have found ways to continue to inspire and showcase their talents!