Chesapeake Sheriff's Office honors Elite unit of Special Olympics athletes with annual 'Splash on the Lake'

Special Olympics lake day Chesapeake sheriff's office
Posted at 1:34 PM, Jul 30, 2022

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - It's a partnership unlike any other for the Chesapeake Sheriff's Office. The "Elite Unit" is made up of Special Olympics athletes, who get the chance to work alongside law enforcement officers.

Saturday, deputies said "thank you" in a one-of-a-kind way — a day on the lake.

Deputies and members of the Elite Unit spent the day at Oak Grove Park, boating, tubing and water skiing with the help of Virginia Beach Adaptive Watersports.

It's all part of the annual "Splash on the Lake," a big thank you to athletes who give their time to the sheriff's office.

“We’ll have the Elite Unit come out, which are individuals that have been through our modified sheriff’s academy who are Special Olympic athletes," Major David Rosado with the Chesapeake Sheriff's Office explained.

The partnership between the sheriff's office and Special Olympics Virginia goes back a long time. News 3 spoke to several athletes, who say they enjoy working alongside the sheriff's office.

“This is one of my favorite events that we do here," said Kaitlin Dykes, a Sergeant and two-year member of the unit.

But Saturday's event wasn't possible without equipment — and that's where Virginia Beach Adaptive Watersports came in.

"We take people waterskiing or tubing or kayaking that don't always get the opportunity," Bill Fertig, a board member with Virginia Beach Adaptive Watersports, said.

Volunteers get the athletes safely into position, and then they're off.

The adaptive watersports have a special significance for Fertig, who's been in a wheelchair for 23 years.

“How important it was for me to get back out on the water and get back waterskiing again. These guys are pros," Fertig said.

Making a difference for members of the Chesapeake community — regardless of ability level.