Partnership to bring health & fitness opportunities to Special Olympic athletes

A new partnership is bringing fitness and health opportunities to a local YMCA for Special Olympic athletes. 

Athletes in the Special Olympics are being given an opportunity to workout with other Erie residents, while also training for their upcoming competitions.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania and the YMCA of Greater Erie are teaming up to provide fitness opportunities to Special Olympic athletes. 

“We have a number of athletes with disabilities here in our community that are wonderful competitors with Special Olympics, but we want to really encourage year-round activities,” said Deanna Renaud, executive director, Special Olympics Pennsylvania Northwest Region. 

The initiative will allow the athletes to participate in YMCA programming, facilities, and to have special rates on memberships.

The executive director said the partnership will also help decrease possible health complications like heart disease or diabetes.

“We know that people with intellectual disabilities have health disparities that lead to a shorter life expectancy. So it’s really important that people are active, they maintain good nutrition, and get the care that they need,” said Renaud.

One Special Olympics athlete that participates in bocce, bowling, basketball, and other sports, tells us how he feels about the opportunities presented to him at the YMCA.

“It’s a great partnership. It’s great they’re helping support the Special Olympics,” said Dillon Gildersleve, athlete, Special Olympics.

Another athlete who is training for track says the partnership will be beneficial for all that are involved.

“It keeps us fit, it keeps us busy. It’s good for us to train so that we will be ready for our competition,” said Katrice Fisher, athlete, Special Olympics.

Athletes participating in the program say the Special Olympics is something they would recommend and they look to continue as long as they can.

“I love Special Olympics. I’ve been doing Special Olympics since I was a kid and I’m 43 years old. I think I’m going to keep doing it until I can’t do it anymore,” said Fisher.

The executive director said the spring sports season for Special Olympics Pennsylvania is starting soon.

For more information on signing up, click here.