SEARCY, Ark. — The Special Olympics Arkansas 2021 Summer Games are in full swing at Harding University with more than 400 athletes from all across the state are competing in person, for the first time in a while because of COVID-19.
The theme this year is “Back At It” and many athletes said they are excited to see each other again.
The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the Summer Games last year, but for 28-year-old Shay Mason from Truman, that was more fuel for the fire for this year’s competition.
“I practiced very hard, and I drank plenty of water and I did stretches,” Mason said.
Growing up, Mason wasn’t able to participate in sports at school, but now she competes in track and field, bowling, bocce ball, softball and basketball.
“Whatever you do, never give up,” Mason said.
It’s athletes like Mason who keep Detective Raul Dallas of the North Little Rock Police Department coming back year after year.
Dallas plays bocce ball as a united partner with his younger brother David, who has Down syndrome.
“It helps us to literally be one on the same on the same team,” said Det. Dallas. “Whether we succeed or we fail.”
Dallas said the Special Olympics has given his brother more confidence and said people with intellectual disabilities are just like everyone else.
“They fear things, they love things, they find joy in life in various ways,” Det. Dallas said.
“Never give up if you feel like you can’t do anything,” Mason said. “Always push yourself to the limit.”
And to them it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about being brave in the attempt.
Once the games wrap up Friday evening, all the scores will be tallied for the awards.
Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Arkansas will be going to the athlete’s cities next month to hand out the awards.