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Special Olympics athletes feel effects of coronavirus

Posted at 6:09 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 19:38:56-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For hundreds of athletes in Missouri and Kansas, their big moment has been canceled.

Special Olympics Missouri called off the State Indoor Games less than two weeks before the event.

The event, which includes bowling and basketball games, had been scheduled for March 20-21 in St. Charles, according to the organization's website.

The organization called off the event after one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the St. Louis area.

Allen Tobin has been an athlete for nearly 25 years. He said events like the State Indoor Games are what he waits for all year.

"I get to see some of my friends from all over the state and some of the staff members, and we usually have a lot of fun," Tobin said.

While he felt deep disappointment after learning he wouldn't get to go this year, he understands the logic.

"It was kind of a bummer," Tobin said. "I'd rather be safe and healthy than take the chance of going, competing, having fun, but having a very good chance of getting sick."

Athletes in Kansas are feeling the same disappointment.

Special Olympics Kansas canceled several events, including state basketball and cheerleading tournaments in Hays and Topeka.

Marykay Brown said her son and his wife were devastated to learn they wouldn't be able to compete in Topeka.

"It's a huge part of their lives, it's their social life, it's their activity, it's their exercise," Brown said. "I knew it was going to be really bad news for them."

Brown said she understands the decision.

"There's a lot of health concerns and we don't want to jeopardize any of their health," Brown said.