ROCK HILL, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) When South Carolina moves into the COVID Vaccination Phase 1b on Monday, March 8th, those with the Special Olympics community relieved to know many of their athletes will be eligible to take the vaccine.
Since last spring all in person special Olympic games here in South Carolina have been canceled.
Officials hope that will soon change thanks to the vaccine.
For 24 year old Ben Gillam of Rock Hill usually during this time of the year he’s prepping for the spring Area 11 Special Olympic Games.”
“I play the hundreds meter dash, long jumps soccer, baseballs,” Ben says.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic Ben like nearly 30,000 other athletes will not be taking part because the games are canceled.
“The Special Olympics is really the few times of year they can all get together and enjoy themselves,” says Susan Gillam.
Ben’s mom, Susan like many others is excited about the fact South Carolina Governor Henry McMcaster announced earlier this week Phase 1B of the vaccination plan will begin Monday, March 8th.
Among those eligible, ages 16 to 64 who have a developmental or other severe high-risk disability can make an appointment to receive the vaccine.
“It gives him some degree of protection because he doesn’t understand how dangerous it could be for some people,” says Susan.
According to the Special Olympics people with an intellectual Disability are 2 to 4 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population.
Leigh Lowery with Special Olympics South Carolina says they’ve been able to have successful virtual programs since the pandemic hit to help athletes but knowing the vaccine will soon be available means hope for in-person events.
“It is exciting to have them in this phase along with our coaches who are 55 and up, a lot are retired teachers”, says Leigh Lowery.
Leigh Lowery says they do not have a date to when in -person games and competitions will start again.
She says they do have a Phased Approach Plan they’ve been working hard on to how they hope to return to play.
She says coaches are also in training right now. They will have training on proper PPE and what to do in case someone were to have symptoms of COVID.
To learn more visit: http://so-sc.org/
Ben has a Fundraising Page for the Polar Plunge to support Special Olympics. Donate here: