After Alaska Summer Games cancellation, Special Olympics Alaska launches virtual games
Special Olympics Alaska, which gets people of all ages into worldwide sports competitions and normally hosts an annual series of summer events here at home, has launched a virtual version of the games in lieu of its normally-scheduled activities.
"We're really excited," said Melissa Wolf of Special Olympics Alaska over the phone Thursday. "It's disappointing that we had to cancel the winter games, and now the summer games, but we are a year-round program and we are just adapting."
Special Olympics International suspended all in-person events, including but not limited to sport training, competitions and fundraising through June 30, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The local Law Enforcement Torch Run was already postponed, and the Alaska Winter Games were cancelled. The Alaska Summer Games were initially scheduled to run in Anchorage in mid-June, but have since also been cancelled.
"The competition would have brought together hundreds of athletes and volunteers from across the state," a release from Special Olympics Alaska stated. "The health and safety of our staff and athletes continues to be paramount."
So, the Alaska-based branch of the program recently launched its 2020 Virtual Games, meant to be a fun way to compete against friends and peers from around the state while still staying close to home. Several online initiatives, including a program called Fit 5 in Alaska, virtual parties and health messaging that are open to the public. You do not need to be registered with Special Olympics to participate, according to officials. There will also be an offline program so that people without internet may participate.
The Fit 5 in Alaska program encourages participants to commit to five days of physical activity, 30 minutes or more, each week; five servings of fruits and vegetables per day; and five bottles of water, 12 oz. or more, also per day. You track your progress each week, ideally for six weeks, and can receive prizes.
Wolf said the group in Alaska has also been having weekly video conferencing sessions, with organizers doing their best to figure out how to keep people connected while reminding them to stay fit.
"We're trying to keep the connection," Wolf said. "The athletes miss the competition, but they also miss their friends.
"Maybe in the fall, we'll be back to business," Wolf said, "as normal as can be."
More information about the event and Special Olympics Alaska overall is available