One of the challenges Special Olympics Kentucky has faced in 2020 is finding ways to keep our athletes involved and motivated when they can’t participate in competitions. We have held Fit Friday on-line workouts and Wellness Wednesday on-line health presentations. In late October we added the Unified Step Challenge.
The Challenge paired a Special Olympics Kentucky athlete with a team member from one of four partner organizations — Year-Round Partners Texas Roadhouse and Toyota, Program Partner Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and annual sponsor Jersey Mike’s. Each team was given a goal of averaging 12,400 steps – 6,200 each – per day for the two-week program. Athletes and their Unified partners communicated throughout the event to encourage each other to stay on track.
One of the highlights of the challenge was that the virtual connectivity of the teams gave athletes from all parts of the state — including areas that hadn’t had the opportunity to participate in some of our in-person activities in the summer and fall — a chance to take part.
Over the course of two weeks, the 37 teams completed more than 8 million steps covering 4,011 miles, or enough to have walked across the United States. Jeremy Simpson of Johnson County Special Olympics was the leading athlete in the Challenge with more than 379,000 steps. He and his partner John Dow of Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives were the Top Pair at 496,377. Matthew Soale of Toyota Georgetown led all Unified partners with 288,146 steps.
Special Olympics Kentucky Volunteer Services Manager Kelli Firquin, who ran the Challenge, was excited about how the event turned out.
“We’re really excited about how seriously our teams took the Challenge and with how well everybody did,” Firquin said. “This was a great way to get our athletes out and active in a way that was safe for them and to find a new way to engage with our partners to keep them involved in our program. It’s great to work with organizations that are this committed to our athletes. We look forward to having the opportunity to bring this event back again soon.”
Our thanks to all of the athletes and Unified partners who participated in the first Unified Step Challenge and thank you to Texas Roadhouse, Toyota, Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and Jersey Mike’s for their participation.
For more information about the Unified Steps Challenge, contact Kelli Firquin at 502-695-8222 or [email protected].