A woman runs on a track

Miranda Orth completes a challenge for the Provincial Challenge Games


Contributed by Alyssa Chan, Communications & Event Planning Intern, and Miranda Orth, Athlete Reporter with Special Olympics BC

Throughout the pandemic, Special Olympics BC (SOBC) has kept athletes engaged through virtual health education events and activity sessions, workshops for basic sport skills, Facebook Live conversations, and fundraisers. For example, the 2020 Virtual Summer Series from June to September challenged folks to walk, run, and/or bike, and led to over $32 000 in funds raised. The organization also provided leadership opportunities for athletes such as Athlete Reporter training and Speakers Bureau. 

It was through Athlete Reporter training that Miranda Orth began her time as a reporter with Special Olympics in December 2020. “Special Olympics was always trying to come up with ways to be creative during this time,” Miranda explains, “because we couldn’t go out anywhere. We weren’t able to go out to practices or anything, so we were trying to figure out a way to do leadership programs, and this was one of them.” She had already been part of Special Olympics as an athlete since she was a teenager, focusing on middle to long-distance running and having won first place in the 5 km race by completing the distance in 25 minutes.

She had also gained experience in public speaking by taking two levels of Speakers Bureau with Special Olympics with the help of speech coach Alexandra Howard, who had originally coached various sports at Special Olympics events, and this has helped her become more confident with speaking in front of others. “Speakers Bureau and this reporting stuff I’m doing now has gotten my speaking ability higher, so I can be heard in certain aspects that aren’t heard often enough regarding disabilities” Miranda recalls, “I’m kinda shy at first, but speaking in front of people, that doesn’t scare me too much.” As an athlete, participating in races has increased her athleticism and enhanced her social life. 

The Provincial Challenge Games was a mostly virtual event featuring a mix of physical exercise and nutritional and health objectives, with some physically distanced activities occurring in person. Throughout May and June, participants earned points for sending pictures and videos of themselves performing the recommended activities through the Special Olympics website, and at the end of every week, coaches totaled up their points for their team. Miranda represented the Vancouver Island region, which came in first place during week 1 of the Games with a total of  528 040 points. 

“My favourite part was the running aspect of it, and also trying out a couple different recipes,” Miranda reminisces. She runs about 2 or 3 times per week to stay fit. “I also participated in the torch run virtually – you walk or run around your neighbourhood with a paper torch or you show your phone with a torch on it, counting down the number of points and submitting them.”

Since the Provincial Challenge Games, she is staying active with Special Olympics through the Super Summer SOBC Wellness Challenge, following activities posted on an eight-week calendar that includes daily workouts and wellness challenges as well as Facebook Live workouts on Tuesdays. You can complete the challenges at any time, or find other resources that Special Olympics has compiled on their website for keeping active and staying healthy at home. 

Miranda Orth is a Special Olympics athlete and Athlete Reporter. She is currently working on a podcast, Diverse Stories, that talks about the challenges individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities face. She has also written a piece for the Vancouver Sun highlighting navigating employment as an individual with an intellectual disability.