Thriving at Home During the Pandemic

Written by Donnie Harmon III
Athlete Leader, Washington County

When the COVID-19 Pandemic began in 2020 and many services were shut down, as if right on tune Special Olympics Maryland created an online virtual world for the Athletes through Zoom. I began taking many Athlete Leadership Classes, many social clubs, participating in MOVEment meetings and many Athlete Led activities. Through these online activities, I have been able to not only keep up with my social skills but have also built upon my social skills helping to create a boost in Confidence. I have made many new friends that are athletes from other counties, some are even from other states as well as staff/volunteers at Special Olympics Maryland.

I have achieved many things that ironically coincide with my Personalized Centered Plan. I took a Beginner’s Conversational Spanish course that ran for 6 weeks. I learned many new Spanish words, phrases, and actions. The course was taught by 2 Athlete Leaders and, I have worked hard in many various Athlete Leader Classes and am now a part of not only Athlete Leadership but am a part of Special Olympics Maryland Athlete Leader Council with a Sub-Committee of Special Olympics Maryland Dance Committee. The Saturday night dances are one of my favorite Social Events through Zoom, each Saturday has a theme and I get to dance the night away for 1 1/2 hours, sometimes longer depending on the date/theme that is in place. For example, on the 2nd of January 2021 the theme was Snowflake Ball, therefore the dance went from 7:30 pm to 9 pm. DJs for the dances are all Special Olympic Maryland Athletes, they do such a fine job! I also very much enjoy the Athlete Monthly Speaker Series/Brave in The Attempt Speeches. These are month-long classes, where a theme to write a speech around is emailed to those participating, here we can voice their thoughts on the topic, we each learn how to write a speech, what should be in the body as well as proper openings and closings. The athletes participating read their speeches to each other during this time as well and critique each other so that we can become better speakers. At the end of each month, the athletes deliver their speeches to the public through zoom, and ALL are invited to attend the public speeches. To date, I have participated from October 2020 through February 2021. I have also learned how to utilize Facebook much better, Google Docs, Zoom, Internet Etiquette, Social Etiquette, Grammarly, and more! Recently, I was selected to be part of the campaign for Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics Maryland. That was such an exciting day too! Special Olympics Maryland Staff and Athlete Media came to our home to film me for the campaign ad that aired at some point on WBAL Baltimore, as my Step Grandmother seen it,  the video clip came out fabulous! Big shout out to Coach John Follett for bringing Long Distance Running Shirt for the video, so I could be in uniform for the video shoot. I also was interviewed by Jason Schriml, SOMD Staff regarding Athlete 50 for 50 Interviews. We have not seen this video clip yet, however, we have been told they will be put up, we just do not have a date.

There are just so many activities to choose to participate in, from Dances to cooking classes, to Coffee with Jason, Physical Fitness, and more.  There is something for everyone! If you are a Special Olympics Maryland Athlete and you are not participating, you are absolutely missing out.  If you are an Athlete for Special Olympics and are interested in joining any of the activities please reach out to a Coach, SOMD through their Facebook Page, or any athlete already participating. There is also a schedule of most events on their Virtual MOVEment website.