Smiles, laughs and cheers encompassed the fields at E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon as Special Olympics athletes competed in a qualifying track meet, complete with T-ball and bocce.
“It was so much fun and I get to learn everything,” said Special Olympian Tatianna Roulette.
Feehan has been hosting the event for more than 40 years, with a pause in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. Welcoming athletes back after two years of pandemic-related cancellations fueled volunteer excitement.
“We have about 70 staff that have been working for weeks to prepare for this meet and we have 500 students who are all here today to help … to run the events and to just make it a really special day for the athletes,” principal Krista Hayes said.
At least 450 athletes aged five and up from the Saskatoon area competed, making Friday’s event the biggest the school has ever hosted.
“It’s known as the best day ever at E.D. Feehan,” Hayes said. “It’s such an honor for us to be able to serve and give back to the community and support our Special Olympic athletes in their future endeavors.”
The day is one the competitors very much look forward to as well.
“Anytime they get a chance to perform, compete, to participate, to do all of that stuff, it’s just another chance show ‘I want to compete and I want to be included,'” Special Olympics Saskatchewan youth coordinator Chris Hamilton said.
Win or lose, competitors lived up to the Special Olympics athlete oath: Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.