Ohio Wesleyan student athletes came together to support special needs athletes in the annual Bishop Champion Games on April 15.
The Bishop Champion Games is an event designed by the Ohio Wesleyan University Athletic Council (OWAC) for special needs athletes. It provides an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to compete.
Around 30 athletes froma ll over Ohio participated in the games.
Some were as young as eight years old.
All participants received a competition t-shirt, and there was an awards ceremony at the conclusion of the Games that honored the top three athletes in each event.
In addition, 100 percent of the proceeds from the Games went toward this year’s funding, and for future events.
According to the event website, the games consisted of several different events in which the athletes could choose to participate, including standing broad jump, long jump, softball/football throw and various running events.
Student athletes committed a great deal of time volunteering. More than 50 student athletes turned out to support the competitors and provide general help.
Sophomore Emily Stewart said she volunteered because it was a great and satisfying experience.
“Working with the special needs population is a really rewarding experience,” said Stewart. “This is what I want to do after I graduate, so participating in an event like this is a lot of fun for me.”
Stewart said that seeing the bright smiles spread across the competitors’ faces when they won a game made the day fun for her.
“It’s really nice to see the athletes be successful and see how much joy it brings them,” Stewart said.
“It’s also great to see the whole OWU athletic community come together for this cause.”
Sophomore Jenna Ortega agreed with Stewart and added that the Games are a good way for the student athletes to be involved in the community.
“Seeing the OWU athletes and the Special Olympics athletes come together as a whole is probably my favorite part,” Ortega said. “The Bishop Champion Games are also a really good opportunity for the OWU athletes to be involved in the community.”
The most popular event seemed to be the 800 meter walk in which the OWU football team assisted the competitors by pairing up with each other. Some became friends with their walking partners and a few exchanged hugs at the end of the event.
Sophomore Daylin Stevens said she thought the participation of the football players showed a high level of respect and care for the competitors.
“I really liked watching the football players walk the laps in the 800 meter walk,” Stevens said. “It just showed how much everyone really cared.”
Another favorite part of the Games for many of the student athletes was seeing the interactions among the athletes, who cheered each other on in every event.
Freshman Kylea Davis said that she was pleasantly surprised by the number of athletes she saw cheering at the games.
“My favorite part of the games would have to be seeing the athletes be able to succeed and support one another,” Davis said. “They are so energetic and happy.”