The Special Olympics returns to Lafayette on April 29 for the first time since 2019. Students with special needs from St. Louis County come to Lafayette to participate in different events. This includes a 50-meter sprint, a 100-meter sprint, a standing long jump and three throwing events, including a turbo javelin, tennis and softball.
“The main event is obviously the track meet, but we have Victory Village, which is kind of like mini-clubs in Lafayette that we’ve set up. They compete in the Olympics on track, they run events, they have games and then we have ceremonies like the Olympics,” said Grace Rigabar, Senior Coordinator and Special Olympics.
Non-event matches will be organized by different clubs. For example, the Student Council will organize a dance party for the athletes.
There will be over 150 participants, each paired with a volunteer buddy for the day to guide them through the events. Students around Lafayette volunteered to spend the entire day as buddies, and each buddy was trained to be more comfortable working with their assigned athlete. They are also informed of their athletes’ interests so that friends and athletes can find something in common.
Lindsey Lohr, the school’s executive friend and coordinator, thinks the event is a chance to get the community excited.
“Special Olympics is a great way for our school to get involved in the community and give friends and athletes a way to connect,” Lohr said. “I think it will be a great way for people to come together, and I can’t wait to see all the smiles.”
Lohr volunteered for the 2019 Special Olympics as a track official.
“I helped organize track events by timing athletes and handing out prizes. I knew it was something I wanted to get involved in every year,” Lohr said.
Special Olympics 2019 was a crowd pleaser, so the event was held indoors. Aashish Allu, Senior Special Olympics Coordinator, remembers being a buddy for the events.
“There were a lot more people but it was still a great time to be able to connect with an athlete and get to know them, to be able to help them for a day. It’s a really fulfilling connection that you can build “said Allu.
To ensure Special Olympics will be held outdoors in case the original date is missed, May 13 is the scheduled backup date.
Rigabar said she enjoys working with children and is excited for Special Olympics.
“I feel like it’s going to be very good,” Rigabar said.
Principal Karen Calcaterra agrees with Rigabar’s sentiments, acknowledging the work the students have put into Special Olympics.
“I am very excited to have Special Olympics returning to LHS. I will be there all day and looking forward to it. Our student leaders have worked very hard to make this event possible,” Calcaterra said.