In a world adapting to new norms, Special Olympics athletes are not immune to these adjustments: a living room becomes a gym, a sports practice becomes a virtual workshop, roommates and caretakers become teammates. Athletes participating in SONC’s Partner Up Power Up fitness challenge are learning to adapt to these new norms together. Special Olympics Wake County athlete Emily Kelly and her father Kevin have made that transition to becoming teammates quite seamlessly.
Having competed in basketball for nearly eight years, Emily is accustomed to seeing her father in the stands. Today, he trains alongside her in the Partner Up Power Up program.
When asked about Emily’s fondness for competing in basketball, she commented, “I like playing with my teammates.” Fortunately for her, that sense of companionship has been solidified inside the Kelly household. Establishing a set schedule to complete the daily activities, the Kellys start and end each day powering up.
“We start our day, after our first cup of coffee, by reviewing the training booklet and talking about what activity we are going to do that day,” Kevin explained. “If we cannot do a specific activity, we look for an alternative to do. We look for something that gives us the same physical challenge, but adapt it.”
In the evenings, Emily logs in to one of the many weekly Partner Up Power Up Zoom sessions that advocate for the regularity of fitness, nutrition and social interaction. Setting a goal for herself at the beginning of the program, Emily has started to see that goal materialize day by day. To achieve the goal of focusing on overall health and increasing energy levels, the Kelly team has hit the pavement, literally, to do so.
“This program has boosted her confidence in a lot of areas,” said Kevin. “She focuses on her health, she has lost some weight and she has started walking regularly. She now has the confidence to keep going and to keep practicing.”
And walk, they do. Whether it is the trail around a nearby park, or neighborhood walkways, their routine has become much more than a simple exercise. Lacing up their sneakers, they embark on an opportunity to bond, to sightsee, and to reach their team goals.
Kevin expressed enjoyment for a particular Partner Up Power Up activity that suggests going for a 30-minute walk and naming something that you were not familiar with. “We spied a lot of holiday decorations for Halloween and autumn.”
Some days, the walking duo becomes a trio with the addition of their family’s pet.
“My dog is nice,” Emily commented. “She’s very small and likes to walk with us.”
In the spirit of partnership, Kevin and his wife celebrated a notable milestone this year. After 40 years of marriage, they reinforce the foundations of support they have built for their family through the Partner Up Power Up program. Stronger together, Emily and her father take each day of training one step at a time.