Special Olympics of Florida join relay series

Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 03:28 PM.

The YOLO Board relay series may be in its seventh season, but it just added a big first.

Special Olympics of Florida athletes joined the line-up for their first ever race division on June 20. Florida is the first state to declare standup paddle boarding, or SUP, as an official competition sport for Special Olympics. So with the help of Jeff Archer, YOLO board co-founder, the Special Olympics division was created.

“The best thing about standup paddle boarding is that anyone can do it,” Archer said. “This is such a positive sport — it gets your excited about life and inspires you. And no one appreciates that more than these Special Olympic athletes. We can all take a lesson from them — they truly live in the moment.”

Archer trained with the Special Olympic athletes for months prior to the relay series starting. He said nothing fulfills him more than one of those practices.

“Standup paddle boarding makes you feel good and gets you excited about life,” Archer said. “The Special Olympics athletes are no different from us — they do the same things we do. So to be able to work with them and get them comfortable on the water and excited to SUP is amazing.”

And you couldn’t miss the excitement on the athletes’ faces as they lined up to compete. When their boards hit the water, the crowd erupted in applause and cheers, which didn’t stop until the last athlete was out of the water. Archer said it’s that kind of support and sense of community that he loves about his YOLO family.

“We are all about human empowering at YOLO,” he said. “We love being ambassadors for the sport. Just being on the water and feeling that connect to nature is such a spiritual experience. And being able to share that feeling with these athletes is inspiring.”



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