Almost 2,600 athletes participated in the Indiana Special Olympics Summer Games in Terre Haute recently. The annual State Games began Friday, June 7, and concluded Sunday, June 9.
Track and field, volleyball, bocce, aquatics, horseshoes bowling, power lifting and cycling events took place on the campuses of Indiana State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and local bowling alleys.
The opening ceremonies Friday evening filled more than half of the Hulman Center Field House on the ISU campus with athletes, coaches, families, volunteers and special guests. The crowd, which wore colorful T-shirts matching their county regions, was enthusiastic while music played during athlete entrances to the arena.
Athletes were greeted by Special Olympics officials, ISU athletes as well as cheerleaders, law enforcement and military personnel from the 181st Intelligence Wing. Jared Fogel, Indiana native and well-know Subway spokesman, was the “Honorary Coach” and a featured speaker. The performance of SkyRiders, a nationally-acclaimed trampoline act, was a big hit with everyone in the arena.
Becky Walls, director for Special Olympics Indiana Kosciusko County, stated that 29 county athletes participated in the games this year. She also mentioned the weather was perfect and everyone had a fun, rewarding experience in Terre Haute. Becky also wanted to thank all the coaches and volunteers for their hard work and dedication. Joe Baranowski, veteran Bocce coach, stated that practice paid off with many athletes receiving medal honors.
Some fun facts about Special Olympics in Indiana:
- The oldest competitor at this year’s games was Eldon Watts, 83 years old, from Vigo County.
- Special Olympics have programs in 79 of Indiana’s 92 counties serving more than 11,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities.
- On average, there are 8 Special Olympics events going on somewhere in Indiana everyday.
- Special Olympics Indiana Programs are made possible across the state by a network of nearly 10,000 volunteers.