The Ohio Wesleyan community came together Sunday to support and encourage those with disabilities to be active and display their physical talents at the third annual Bishop Champion Games held at Selby Stadium and George Gauthier Track.
Senior Sean Patrick, Bishop Champion Games co-founder and games coordinator, and Julie Duffy, women’s lacrosse coach and advisor to the Ohio Wesleyan Athletics Council, helped to make this event possible.
The event was publicized throughout the community, and the athletes could sign up online to take part. The event was free for participants. Contests during the day included the high jump; long jump; football/softball throw; 50-, 100- 400-, and 800-meter walk/run; and the 4×100 relay. The main event was the 4×100 meter Wesleyan relay, which involved an OWU student-athlete running as a part of the team made up of special needs athletes.
OWU students also volunteered at the event. “I think the students benefit by seeing how sports can bring people from all different backgrounds together to be successful at the best of their abilities,” says Duffy. “It was great this year because we also had 10 student-athletes from Oberlin come and help out and it was great to see the teamwork our conference’s schools have with each other.”
Patrick especially treasures the experiences he has had at the Bishop Games.
“Working with special needs individuals is my passion. It is inspirational to see how these individuals do not consider themselves different or incapable of accomplishing their goals,” says Patrick. “It touches my life to know that we here at OWU are giving these athletes a chance to fulfill their athletic dreams by competing in a college arena alongside college athletes.”
Since Patrick is a senior, he encourages other underclassmen who are passionate about the event to contribute to next year’s event. “I will be graduating so I really hope and pray that this event continues even when I graduate. It is an experience that I hope future OWU students will have the chance to experience for years to come,” says Patrick.
Duffy says being a college athlete—or just healthy in general—can be overlooked and taken for granted.
“I think for all of us it is a reminder of the gift we have all been given athletically,” she says. “When our athletes see how excited the special needs athletes get at getting a medal or just having their name announced it re-sparks why we love playing sports at this level.”