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Special Olympics athletes stay positive while switching to virtual workouts

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Posted at 6:43 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 21:43:46-04

Athletes all over the country have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, especially those in local sports organizations, but one group is doing everything it can to make sure the athletes can still have fun.

Special Olympics Santa Maria is home to about 300 athletes and since March, things have changed a bit, but it hasn't stopped the athletes from staying active, staying positive, and living in the moment.

"We like doing stuff together and it felt pretty sad when they said sports would be closed," said Andrea Shaw, athlete.

"We've kind of had to pivot and change directions and move to virtual programming so that's really been our ultimate goal right now is, since COVID hit, to keep them active, engaged and fit while they're at home," said Rudy Gutierrez, Special Olympics Santa Maria Area Manager.

"We've been doing fitness challenging together, like a lot of stretches," Andrea said.

Those virtual workouts are being led by a variety of people, from athletes themselves, volunteers from all over California, and even NFL football players.

For the athletes in Santa Maria, this is phase zero, meaning everything is virtual right now and it'll stay that way until at least the spring.

"Phase 1 is where we will kinda do groups of no more than 10," Gutierrez said. "That won't start until April."

Despite virtual engagement being the new normal for now, Andrea says it's still a lot of fun and she's excited to be a part of it.

"Even though we lose that contact with our friends, we still have that socialization going on," she said. "We can't play sports but we understand that. We still want to be a part of a team."

Click here to get involved in the Special Olympics' Healthy Lifestyle Challenge.