Helping Special Olympics athletes reach their goals

Posted at 11:39 AM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 18:41:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- As a refuge and place of rest for both two-legged and four-legged creatures alike, Richmond's Bryan Park serves many purposes.

For Claire Carrico the urban oasis is the perfect yoga studio.

“I always enjoy teaching any size class,” Carrico said. “I’ll teach whoever is in front of me and cater to their needs."

The instructor urges students to find their inner strength.

Chelsea Gourghan is a nine-sport athlete with the Special Olympics Virginia.

“I don’t know how long she’s been doing yoga, but she is really good at it,” Gourghan said. “It can help us with our minds and the stress that the athletes have.”

Both women are stretching their friendship to the limits, both serve on the non-profit’s Young Professionals Board.

“It is very gratifying. I just love engaging with the athletes and other young professionals who come together around one cause it just brightens my day,” Carrico said.

With the 2020 Special Olympics Summer Games canceled, Carrico is leading virtual fitness classes for athletes stuck on the sidelines.

“Maintaining a sense of community especially in a time when athletes, in particular, feel really isolated,” she said.

Bryan Schubring called the volunteer of two years a true champion.

“Oh, enormous. I don’t think there is enough room in this park to put her heart in it. She is just fantastic,” he said. “She is in it to help our athletes. To learn about our athletes. To watch them grow and make them better individuals and show the world the capabilities our athletes have.”

Chelsea’s dad said has blossomed

“People like Claire are angels. They are angels to us as parents,” Jerry said. “She is that beautiful flower that no one notices but it's there. Special Olympics and all of the people involved bring those flowers to the forefront.”

The 26-year volunteer finds pleasure helping special athletes stay sharp physically and mentally as they reach for gold in life.

Claire Carrico is a yoga instructor who is a breath of fresh air.

“Special Olympics promotes the inclusion of people of all abilities. I just love it," she said. “That is what the Special Olympics is. It is a great big happy family. And everyone is there to support them in their journey wherever they may be in that journey.”

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