See some special moments from the Special Olympics

Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 3:17 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The flame of the torch didn’t hold a candle to the spark in the eyes of these athletes today.

After a forced two-year hiatus for COVID, the Special Olympic games are back in Columbia County.

The pandemic has been tough on all of us, but for families with special needs kids, many of whom are high risk, the challenges can be overwhelming.

Friday was a true celebration. Two years in the making.

Amanda Herrington, mother of 4th-grade athlete, Reagan Herrington

“They light up their faces. It brings true tears to us,” she said.

For parents who have been so worried for so long, navigating a pandemic with special needs children felt like a weight finally lifted.

Brandi Cook, mom to athlete Brodie Cook said: “Two years ago he couldn’t have come out and done this. He wasn’t physically mentally able to do this, so to see him come and do it this year is really epic.”

Brandi’s son Brodie is autistic, and change can be hard for him. So, moving here from Texas right as the pandemic hit, then going into lockdown, set him back quite a bit.

“He’s not able to do the same therapies. He was not able to be in the social setting he needed to advance,” she said.

Which is why seeing how far he’s come, makes his little red ribbon priceless.

The parents aren’t the only ones who know what these games mean to the kids. The teachers who work with them every day see the difference it makes.

One teacher said: “It’s huge for them the social interactions, the camaraderie, and all the love that’s here.”

Everyone is hopeful for the first time in a long time—-the finish line for the pandemic chapter.

Take a look at what happened in the photo gallery below.

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