By SPECIAL OLYMPICS
Concerns and restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak forced Special Olympics Kentucky to cancel our State Summer Games — the centerpiece of our competition year — for the first time in our history. Even though we will miss having more than 1,500 athletes compete at Eastern Kentucky University, we are continuing to honor athletes like gymnast Aliya White of Lexington through our “Salute to Summer Games;”
Born in Kazakhstan, Aliya White was adopted and came to the United States when she was four years old. She began competing in Special Olympics gymnastics at the age of nine. Less than three years later she was helping lead Team Kentucky into the Opening Ceremonies at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. As it has been for so many of our athletes, the loss of the sport she loves has been challenging for Aliya.
“It has been very weird, especially on Sunday when I should be getting dressed and having mom or dad take me to the gym to practice,” Aliya says. “Also very sad and confusing.”
With Summer Games as our only rhythmic gymnastics competition of the year, it takes on even greater meaning for rhythmic gymnasts like Aliya.
“Summer Games lets me show everyone the skills I have learned and how much I have improved since last year,” She says. “It’s everyone’s time to shine.”
But she will miss a lot more than her competition with the cancellation of this year’s Games.
“I’ll miss staying overnight in the dorms with everyone and all of the fun we have there,” she says. “I will also miss getting to see everyone that I haven’t seen since last year. This makes me very sad.”
When asked what she looks forward to most about getting back to the gym, Aliya’s voice cracked and she teared up a little as she explained, “Getting to see ALL of my teammates and coaches because I have really missed them.”
You can join the “Salute to Summer Games” and help sustain the sports and other programs that mean so much to Aliya and her fellow athletes by donating today at donate.sokysalute.com. And join us on our Facebook page at 6:30 pm EDT on Friday, June 5, for the Salute to Summer Games presentation which will highlight all the excitement of our traditional Summer Games event.
For more information about the “Salute to Summer Games” or about how you can help, contact Taylor Ballinger at email@example.com or 502-695-8222.