Special Olympics return to Lafayette for first time since 2019


Shannon Worley

An athlete runs at the 2019 Special Olympics. After a three year hiatus, the events are returning to Lafayette.

Max Hartsfield, Staff Reporter

The Special Olympics are returning to Lafayette April 29 for the first time since 2019. Special needs students from St. Louis County come to Lafayette to participate in different events. This includes a 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash, standing long jump and three throwing events including a turbo javelin, tennis and softballs. 

“The main event is the track meet obviously, but we have Victory Village which is kind of like mini clubs from Lafayette that we put together. They compete in the track Olympics, they do events, they do games, and then we have ceremonies like the Olympics,” senior and Special Olympics Coordinator Grace Rigabar said.

The non-event games will be put on by different clubs. For example, the Student Council will be holding a dance party for the athletes.

There will be over 150 participants, each paired with a volunteer buddy for the day to guide them through the events. Students around Lafayette volunteered to spend the entire day as a buddy, and each buddy has been trained to be more comfortable working with their assigned athlete. They are also told their athlete’s interests so buddies and athletes can find something in common. 

Executive Buddy and School Coordinator senior Lindsey Lohr thinks the event is a chance to get the community excited.

“The Special Olympics is a great way for our school to get involved in the community and give both buddies and athletes a way to connect,” Lohr said. “I think it is going to be a great way for people to come together, and I can’t wait to see all the smiles.”

Lohr volunteered for 2019’s Special Olympics as a Track Official.

“I helped run track events by timing the athletes and handing out prizes. I knew that it was something I wanted to be involved in each year,” Lohr said.

The 2019 Special Olympics were rained on, so the event occurred indoors. Special Olympics Coordinator senior Aashish Allu remembers being a buddy for the events. 

“It was a lot more crowded but it was still a really good time to be able to connect with an athlete and to get to know them, be able to help them for a day. It’s a really fulfilling connection that you get to build,” Allu said. 

To guarantee the Special Olympics will occur outdoors in case the original date is rained out, May 13 is the planned backup date.

Rigabar said she enjoys working with kids and she’s excited for the Special Olympics.

“I feel like it’ll go very well,” Rigabar said.

Principal Karen Calcaterra agrees with Rigabar’s sentiments, acknowledging the work students have put into the Special Olympics.

“I am very excited to have the Special Olympics back at LHS.  I will be there all day and am looking forward to it.  Our student leaders have been working very hard to make this event possible,” Calcaterra said.