In response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Special Olympics Kansas (SOKS) quickly adjusted to virtual activities. One program, Virtual Health and Fitness, was created to engage athletes through Facebook Live and later to include live participation on Zoom. Hundreds of athletes have encountered and interacted with Virtual Health and Fitness to improve their sports performance, leadership skills, and overall health. Two of those participants, Gigi (Kansas) and Kaylee (Illinois), have discovered life-changing outcomes that will impact them for a lifetime.
Gigi and Kaylee first met each other in the winter of 2020 through All Things NFL on SOKSCenter. At the time, Gigi and Kaylee were regular athletes looking for something fun to do while they weathered the wrath of the pandemic. Quickly after, Gigi and Kaylee became best friends. “Traveling” to each other’s state to attend Virtual Health and Fitness sessions in Kansas and Illinois. Shortly thereafter, they “traveled” to Florida, Maine, Texas, Missouri, and Oregon to name a few. While they wish they could be together in person or with their teams at practice, they are so grateful for the Zoom sessions that have connected them with so many athletes and athlete leaders across the United States!
Gigi and Kaylee have always been passionate about their health, but all that changed in early 2020. Their lifestyle became sedentary, the TV became their best friend, and the walls couldn’t hold a conversation. Virtual Health and Fitness was the outlet that they needed. They were up, they were moving, they were learning new things, and their social connections were back. Gigi and Kaylee are proud that family, coworkers, and friends have noticed their health changes and motivations to get through the pandemic. Additionally, Gigi states that she started a habit of stretching during TV shows and Kaylee feels that something is off if she doesn’t get her daily walks in.
Gigi and Kaylee strengthened their confidence, determination, and ambition through Virtual Health and Fitness. Because of it, Gigi and Kaylee enrolled in their state’s Health Messenger Training Program. Gigi and Kaylee have since been leading Virtual Health and Fitness, encouraging athletes to participate in SOKS Health programs, and mentoring their peers to become leaders. Distinctively to Gigi and Kaylee; each state that they overcame the fear of public speaking, they feel comfortable asking their coworkers a question, they have meaningful conversations with customers, and they are never afraid to give eye contact.
Gigi and Kaylee are setting the bar for their teammates at sports practices and games. Anxious to show off their new skills, they both state that Virtual Health and Fitness gave them a foundation for endurance and flexibility. Gigi, who has been participating in softball and bowling; feels stronger, better prepared, and overall healthier at her games! Kaylee, who has been participating in bowling, bocce, and softball; feels more energized, in better shape, and is excited about practice!