ROANOKE, Va. – Tuesday was a day to celebrate the spirit of competition and inclusion as the Special Olympics Big Feet Meet returned to William Fleming High School in Roanoke.
“All in all, pushing about 600 total students that are involved in this event today,” said Nancy Morehouse, Southwest Region Director of Special Olympics Virginia. “It’s very big and it’s such a positive message for them to be embraced and celebrated for all of their skills and talents.”
The Big Feet Meet is an annual track and field event that brings together hundreds of Special Olympics athletes and their school peers. The event was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year 380 athletes and 200 of their peers gathered to support them as the athletes ran and competed in a variety of events inside William Fleming’s stadium. The students represented 25 schools from across the area. Two hundred William Fleming students volunteered during the event.
“To be able to come out here and celebrate all of our athletes in the Roanoke Valley, it’s just a huge, powerful message to the community that our athletes matter just as much as the high school teams matter and that the school systems here are behind all of the students,” Morehouse said.
Michael Myles, a student at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke who competed on Tuesday, said he was excited to take part in the event.
“You get to see your friends and people come cheer for you,” Myles said.
The Big Feet Meet kicks off Special Olympics Virginia fall unified sports season, which joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team in sports including basketball and bowling.