Phase 1, 2, 3, All
To: Special Olympics Ohio Friends and Family
From: Jessica Stewart, President and CEO, Special Olympics Ohio
Date: February 26, 2021
Re: 2021 Summer Games and Our Path Forward
All of us here at Special Olympics Ohio hope this message finds you healthy and well as we hold onto the hope of returning to the “normal” we certainly miss, know and love. We remain positive, can see the light, and know this COVID-19 world won’t last forever. We also know returning to full activities will take some time and won’t happen overnight. Until then, we will continue to put the safety and health of our athletes first. Aligned with our Special Olympics Ohio Health Initiatives, the overall wellbeing of our athletes continues to be a priority for us.
Over the past month, we have had multiple conversations with our Board of Directors, our Special Olympics Ohio Medical Director, The Ohio State University leadership, State Staff, our athletes, and our Return to Play COVID Committee made up of leadership from our local organizations. In addition, we sent out a survey to all of our local organizations to explore their current feelings on Summer Games and Return to Play intentions for community-based activities. These conversations have been incredibly valuable and truly insightful.
At this time nearly a year ago, we were using Summer Games 2021 as our celebration opportunity pulling out of this pandemic. We truly thought we would be further out, leaving this pandemic as memory and snapshot in history. Unfortunately, as I sit here writing this message with a heavy heart, we just aren’t there yet. There are multiple factors at play in this decision, but the safety of our athletes is our utmost priority.
Although I know the disappointment of our athletes, yet again, is unbearable, we simply cannot safely hold our Summer Games event in 2021. We must proceed with caution and protect the next six months to hopefully be back to state-level competition in the Fall. That is our sincere hope. Our Special Olympics Ohio leadership is committed to embracing the unique opportunities we have in the next six months. We will be working with the Return to Play COVID Committee to build out best practices to share statewide. At this time, Special Olympics Ohio will continue to operate in our Return to Play- Phase 1. There are just too many unknowns at this time to comfortably move to Phase 2. We will continue to monitor the current COVID-19 climate and make decisions as soon as we can.
Thank you for your support as we continue to stay focused on the health and safety of our athletes and our entire Special Olympics Ohio community. Now is the time for us to continue to build upon our mission at a community level. In many ways, we are returning to our roots…to the days when Eunice Kennedy Shriver held a camp in her backyard. We too must focus on small group activities until we can safely move forward.
Let us use this time to reach every athlete and allow THEM to invite us in…to redefine what it truly means to be a Champion.
In the true spirit of our athletes, we will continue to overcome this challenge, be brave in the attempt, and always look to our athletes to be our light in a brighter tomorrow. We can’t thank you enough for all you do for our mission. Please stay well and healthy as we move through this time…we can do this TOGETHER!