From the pool to the track, thousands of Special Olympics Connecticut athletes are giving it their all this weekend.
Margarette Shonti’s son Anthony has been participating in the Special Olympics for more than a decade.
This year, the 20-year-old from Windsor Locks ran off with another gold medal in the 3,000m run. However, it’s not the winning that brings him back every summer.
“You get to hang out with friends,” said Anthony.
“It’s made him more aware of himself and other people,” his mother explained.
Whether reaching for the wall of a swimming pool or the finish line on the track, athletes from across Connecticut brought their best to this year’s Games.
“50 years ago, Special Olympics started as just a field day with a handful of Connecticut athletes. Today, it’s a weekend-long event with 2,500 participants and that is just the Summer Games.
“We started out with five, now we have 27 sports. We had one season, Summer Games, now we have four major seasons throughout the year,” said Beau Doherty, Special Olympics Connecticut President.
“I love running and I’m a fast runner, and I think I’m going to get another gold medal this year,” Lindsey Marien of Lebanon said.
The Games are a highlight for both the athletes and their families.
“The camaraderie, the fun everybody has, and we’ve got a really good team, and he’s made a lot of friends,” said Margarette.
Doherty has been part of the organization for all but seven of its 50-years.
“The energy you get from the people that come out, and I get to go to a lot of events, it really can’t be measured,” he explained.
It’s that energy that Doherty says keeps the Games growing in Connecticut.