As many of you know, Strider was lucky enough to be invited to host an Adventure Zone as part of the Special Olympics USA Games held in New Jersey in June.
Here it is, more than a month later, and still, all I can say is “WOW”! It was such an honor for us to participate in the first ever Young Athletes Festival. This amazing celebration of Special Olympics youngest, and future athletes was presented by Toys R Us and was at the Special Olympics New Jersey Sports Complex.
The facility was amazing in itself, but the transformation that the Young Athletes Festival team created to make this a one-of-a-kind experience for kids with special needs was truly unbelievable. Sports of all kinds were represented that showed off their skills, giggles were unending in the fun house, jewels were discovered in the specially designed rain forest and there was even snow to play in despite the 90 degree days of summer!! They thought of it all.
And STRIDER was a part of it! What an amazing week. Between 500 and 600 kids with special needs, ages 2 to 7 attended and it ran so smoothly, in no small part, due to the hundreds of volunteers helping throughout the week. It was an emotional week seeing so many kids that have never been on a bike take off on a Strider and master the course. Nowhere else could the sight of an empty walker mean that child was out riding a bike!
The Young Athletes Festival was just one of the many venues holding world class sporting events that week. There were exciting competitions going on at 10 different locations that revealed champions from all over the country and entertained more than 70,000 spectators! A Future Stars race was held twice each day. This race, on a custom built track, gave every participant the chance to run in front of a cheering crowd and earn their first ever Special Olympics Medal.
You can see all of the amazing photos from The Young Athletes Festival HERE
Thank you to the USA Games, to Special Olympics New Jersey and to Toys R Us for a spectacular week! A very special thanks goes to Ellen Anderson for her vision of the Young Athletes program and festival, combined with the countless hours of work to make it a reality! One more, big shout out goes to Andrea Moore! She enthusiastically embraced Strider and making it possible for us to work towards a strong future of creating more riders through Young Athletes and Special Olympics.