Though news that the 2020 Special Olympics Summer Games was canceled amid COVID-19 concerns was upsetting, Conway Human Development Center residents are finding ways to stay positive.

Sarah Murphy, the Conway Human Development Center superintendent, said resident athletes are understanding of the cancelation and are eager to hear when they can resume Special Olympics-related activities.

“You know we are resilient,” she told the Log Cabin Democrat. “Our athletes were definitely looking forward to SOAR and our 50th year celebration, but as you know, our focus has changed for the time being. We are staying strong here at CHDC and are supporting and encouraging others. We know that this is only a temporary ‘pause’ of Special Olympics’ events and games and it is for everyone’s safety and best interest.”

Terri Weir, SOAR’s executive director and CEO, announced Monday that the annual event would be canceled due to concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus and health risk it would impose on the athlete and SOAR coaches.

CHDC’s superintendent said she is confident SOAR activities will resume “at some point” because of the program’s resilience and that the facility’s residents are doing well through this crisis.

“We want everyone to know that at the Conway Human Development Center, we are doing well,” Murphy said. “Our residents and staff are upbeat and positive. Our staff and residents have been participating in activities that encourage each other.”

Residents have worked alongside CHDC staff to create a new “Heroes Work Here” sign.

Residents also helped on Thursday to set up the signage at the facilities entrance to greet and praise employees as they arrive to work each day.

CHDC SOAR athletes have not given up and continue exercising in an effort to stay healthy as well.

“Our athletes are continuing to stay fit and healthy, utilizing both indoor equipment as well as taking walks and playing basketball outside during nice weather,” Murphy said. “We believe that SOAR and CHDC will both come out of this stronger and better than ever.”

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at

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