The “superstars” back for the Special Olympic Games in Richmond

For the 27th time, the Games returned to the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, bringing with them more than 900 athletes from across the state.

RICHMOND, Ky (WTVQ) – Hundreds of athletes are in Richmond this weekend for the state Special Olympics.

“It really makes me feel like a superstar,” said athlete and ambassador Katie Williams.

For the 27th time, the Games returned to the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, bringing with them more than 900 athletes from across the state.

“This gives our athletes, people with intellectual disabilities, this is how you qualify for Special Olympics, an opportunity to show the state and the communities they live in just how much people with intellectual disabilities can accomplish when opportunities are open to them,” said communications director Mark Buerger.

The games include an Olympic City and a Healthy Athletes’ Village.

“And this year we’re offering eye-opening vision screening,” Buerger said. “So our athletes can go in for a free eye exam by trained professionals, and after that, if it turns out they need glasses, we’ll provide the glasses for free.”

Several sports are up for grabs, including athletics, swimming, pétanque and rhythmic gymnastics.

“Special Olympics means a lot to me,” Williams said. “I’m in my comfort zone when I’m in Special Olympics.”

Williams has been competing for years, but don’t ask her what her favorite sport is yet.

“It’s tough. A connection between athletics and basketball,” Williams said.

Athletes say the games are a way to prove they can do anything they set their minds to.

“Even if I lose, it’s still fun,” said athlete Candace Helton. “There is no judgment here. There’s no. You can be different here, you can be anything, there is no difference.

The Games will run until Saturday afternoon.

Naomi C. Amerson