DAVIS — In an arena filled with joy and no judgment, hundreds of athletes facing hundreds of challenges stepped into the Pavilion at U.C. Davis for the Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games Grand Opening.
Before all of the competition – a celebration of community.
Law enforcement is the biggest fundraiser for Special Olympics.
This boisterous crowd turned quiet, observing a moment of silence for Sacramento Officer Tara O’Sullivan – killed just two days ago while helping a woman on a domestic violence call.
“Tonight I’m incredibly honored to acknowledge Officer Corona’s service,” said Dan Winter, Assistant Chief of Police for the City of Santa Clara. He also serves as the Law Enforcement Torch Run Director for Special Olympics
Lost in January, Davis Officer Natalie Corona was honored with an award presented to her parents.
Corona was ambushed by a gunman while investigating a car crash.
“They’re a part of our larger law enforcement family. Officer Corona was a part of our torch run which led up to the summer games last year,” said Tyler Krochmal with Special Olympics Northern California.
Corona’s steps with the torch and the light she tried to shine into the lives of others were also honored as Corona’s parents lit the torch to start this year’s games.
John Kenny’s been around for 38 torch-lightings.
What does the competition give him?
“Confidence,” he said.
And the games have given him much more than that.
“I met my wife through bocce ball years ago… she’s my angel,” Kenmny said.
There’s a spirit of inclusion, integrity and inspiration that fuels the games and a goal of doing one’s best no matter the obstacle ahead.
It’s an idea that links fallen officers, those facing their next shift and the athletes looking ahead to their events.
It’s in the Special Olympics oath: ‘If I can’t win.. let me be brave in the attempt.’
The Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games run through the weekend.