TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Organizers are putting on the final touches for the 2021 Special Olympics being held Saturday at Jesuit High School in Tampa.
In 2020 the Special Olympics was cancelled because of the pandemic, but this year with safety precautions in place, athletes will come together again.READ MORE: Rebuilding Together Atlanta Awarded National Grant For Westside Revitalization Projects
Due to COVID-19, team sports will not be held on Saturday, but individual athletes can compete in things like cycling and soccer skills. One athlete says she can’t wait to be back on the field.
What Special Olympics cycling athlete, Paige Kroupa is most excited for this weekend is – “Seeing other people!” She adds, “I’ve been in quarantine through this entire thing. I haven’t really seen my friends.”
Ken Roop, Special Olympics organizer, says “I’ll be honest. It’s been tough. I’ve taken a lot of calls from athletes and parents. We’ve done Zoom calls, a lot of virtual, which has really helped.”
People with disabilities have been training non-stop for the Special Olympics for months, using unconventional methods.
“Then we would have an exercise with all of us with our computers,” said Kroupa.
Roop says after the event was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, finally being able to come together will benefit everyone.READ MORE: 211K Pounds Of Ground Turkey Sold As Wegmans Or Nature Promise Brands Could Be Contaminated With Salmonella
“It’s going to be a big boost in a positive manner all the way around. I’m looking forward to it,” said Roop.
Through out the competition, there will be some precautions taken to keep people safe.
“Everybody will be screened as they come in with covid questionnaires. There will be signs that you have to wear a mask. We will have masks, wipes, everything available,” said Roop.
As organizers make last minute preparations, there’s one thing everyone is looking forward to.
“I know everybody will have a mask on, but you can see a smile even with a mask on I’m sure we will see a lot of it. Let the games begin,” said Roop.
“It gives the athletes and myself the accomplishment that you can go and do something and then you can go on and get a job or whatever your dreams are,” said Kroupa.MORE NEWS: 'For Me, It Was A Celebration' | Maryland Woman Wears Wedding Dress To Get Vaccinated
The Special Olympics opening ceremony is held this year at Jesuit High School in Tampa, beginning Saturday at 9 a.m. and will wrap up around 2 in the afternoon.