Bell Bank Park in Mesa helped Special Olympics AZ kick off their first major event of the year. Over 1,000 athletes of all ages participated in basketball and cheerleading competitions after over two years of only being able to compete virtually.
“We were gonna have it in 2020 and it got shut down,” said SOAZ CEO and President, Jamie Heckerman. “This year it’s really awesome to have about 13 hundred athletes from across the state come in and play basketball and compete in cheerleading.”
14-year-old Eryn Shaw joined the cheerleading program during COVID and had only ever participated in virtual competitions. After a long wait, Eryn finally got to compete in her first-ever in-person cheerleading competition.
“It feels great,” Shaw said. “I get to do competitions in-person and meet new friends in cheer.”
When Eryn began cheerleading she was shy but now her coaches at SOAZ Peoria say she has broken out of her shell. The sport has taught her to push her limits and enjoy meeting new people. Eryn’s favorite part about cheerleading is being able to be active and learn new routines.
Eryn’s team won the silver medal in their first cheerleading competition of the year at Bell Bank Park.