Keeping the competitive spirit alive during the pandemic was at the forefront of conversations amongst many, including Special Olympics Illinois athletes. Due to a remote atmosphere, a new virtual experience was born – Virtual Sports. This virtual program is comprised of monthly sports skills and challenges along with a featured fitness component, designed to help engage athletes, coaches, and families from across Illinois.
Special Olympics Illinois athlete KC Coppel and his mother, Micki, made a point to stay active while at home. KC lives in a group home with his peers. During the pandemic, KC was not able to engage with others outside of his housemates. Therefore, Micki and KC made a plan and later enrolled in the January’s fitness challenge. This month-long challenge was an accumulation of jumping jacks, leading up to the total amount of 100.
“We FaceTime every day! Somedays, I would forget, and KC would politely remind me with a text or call,” explains Micki.
Participating in Virtual Sports was an opportunity for a mother and a son to stay connected during the pandemic, and most importantly, stay healthy.
“It helped me keep busy while in-person activities were not happening,” said Coppel.
KC Coppel competes with Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA). Outside of competition, Coppel takes trips with his peers and teammates. He also learns social and life skills to be able to live independently.
“Special Olympics has afforded KC so many opportunities, many of those being outside of sports,” explains his mother, Micki.
The virtual programming Special Olympics Illinois provided throughout the pandemic came as no surprise to Micki.
“As a family, we moved around quite a bit through KC’s childhood. We were very thankful to find the Special Olympics Illinois program.”
Virtual Sports is also a part of the upcoming Virtual Summer Games this month, helping athletes be part of the Virtual Summer Games at home. The Virtual Summer Games Pentathlon lets athletes choose five events to complete, submitting their scores online. Events consist of all sports typically offered during Summer Games – but with a twist. To participate in the June offering, please visit www.soill.org/virtual-sports.
You will learn more about KC and the Special Olympics Illinois Virtual Sports program during the Summer Games: Virtual Celebration on Saturday, June 26 at 6:30 PM CT. This primetime event will be available to watch live on our Facebook page, Twitch channel, or via the Virtual Summer Games website. To learn more about activities available throughout the week of Virtual Summer Games, view the schedule and the details on how to participate at virtualsummergames.soill.org/event-calendar.