Missouri student-athletes spend day with Special Olympics athletes
COLUMBIA- Special Olympics athletes from across Missouri got to "kick it" with Missouri student-athletes Saturday afternoon.
The experience proved to be unique for two MU student-athletes.
"They teach us just as much as we teach them," said J'den Cox, an MU wrestler. "They help us become better people. They help us get to know ourselves just as much as we get to know them and getting to know them, that's a bonus. That's the icing on the cupcake."
Cox and other MU student-athletes got know the Special Olympics participants throughout the afternoon through lunch and a kickball game at the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex.
"You know, it's just all about having fun and the competitiveness is toned down," said wrestler Lavion Mayes.
Cox said he struggled with that aspect a couple of times throughout the event.
"I learned not to be as competitive during a sports event," he said. "That was hard because I remember the first game was like, 'oh yeah, we're going to take them out.' I was just like, 'alright, calm down,' and it was pretty fun."
He said it was fun to interact with the special olympics athletes, and found a way to relate to them. Cox said having his medical condition, a cochlear implant allowed him to relate to the special olympics athletes.
"I do have an understanding of what it is like to have something hinder you and keep you from doing certain things," he said. "I know what that feels like and I want to be there for them."
Mayes said the event also served to prepare him for his future.
"One of my goals as a man is to be a really good father," he said.
The special olympic athlete with whom he spent the day was a seven-year-old boy, who did not want to play kickball with the others.
"I'm just sitting there talking with him," he said. "Just letting him know that if he wants to play, he can jump in at any time."
Cox said that while he thinks the special olympics athletes had fun and learned from the MU student-athletes, it was a two-way street and the special olympics athletes taught him a few things as well.