4,000 Athletes to Compete in Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games in Bloomington-Normal
NORMAL, Ill. – On the track, in the pool, the gym or on the fields, more than 4,000 athletes from across the state will compete in the annual Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games on June 13-15 at the Illinois State University campus in Normal and Illinois Wesleyan University campus in Bloomington. Competition begins at noon Friday, June 13, and concludes by noon Sunday, June 15.
Summer Games is the largest of the more than 175 Special Olympics competitions held throughout Illinois each year. At Summer Games, athletes compete in one of six sports: Aquatics – Horton Pool; Athletics (track & field) – ISU Track; Bocce – ISU Soccer Fields; Gymnastics – Horton Field House; Powerlifting – Kingsley Junior High School Main Gym; and Soccer – Hancock Stadium.
To qualify for State Games, one of the following has occurred: athletes have won gold medals in athletics (track & field) at their Area Spring Games; won gold medals in District competition for gymnastics, bocce or aquatics; or have participated in sanctioned competition or Area qualifiers in soccer or powerlifting.
Sports competition runs from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, June 13; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 14; and 7:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, June 15. The public is invited and encouraged to attend any and all parts of Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games.
Special Olympics Illinois again is offering Unified® bocce competition, with about 90 people competing. Unified Sports® combine equal numbers of Special Olympics and non-Special Olympics athletes of similar age and ability on teams that compete against other Unified Sports® teams. Unified Sports® expand sports opportunities for athletes seeking new challenges and dramatically increases integration in the community.
In addition, there will be a Special Olympics Young Athletes Culminating Event from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, June 13, at the U-High Practice Field. Special Olympics Young Athletes is a sports play program for children with intellectual disabilities and their peers, designed to introduce them to the world of sports prior to Special Olympics eligibility at age 8. The Special Olympics Young Athletes Program was created to meet the physical and developmental needs of children ages 2 to 7. Stations at Summer Games will be running, jumping, striking, kicking, balancing, throwing, catching and an obstacle course. Again this year, 6- and 7-year-olds will be able to participate in the 50-meter run (10 a.m. Saturday), tennis ball throw (12:20 p.m. Saturday) and soccer skills (1 p.m. Saturday). Times are tentative.
In the best Olympic tradition, Opening Ceremonies begins with the Parade of Athletes and Honorary Coaches into ISU’s Hancock Stadium at 8 p.m. on June 13. The Special Olympics flag will be brought into the stadium by some athletes and coaches who will be leaving the next day for the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey. Team Illinois consists of 53 athletes, 6 Unified Partners and 17 coaches competing June 14-21.
The pomp and ceremony continues with the entry of the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run®. With lit torches held high, officers representing each of the 23 legs of the Torch Run will enter the stadium and pass the torch to athletes from Team Illinois who will light the cauldron holding the Flame of Hope, signifying the official opening of Summer Games. The recitation of the Special Olympics oath – “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt” – will be led by a Team Illinois athlete.
Entertainment during Opening Ceremonies will be provided by the Zooperstars, with the State Farm Band performing on the track from 7 to 8 p.m.
Again this year, athletes will have the opportunity to participate in three Healthy Athletes programs in the lower level of Redbird Arena. Athletes participating in the Opening Eyes program will receive a vision screening and eyewear if needed. Opening Eyes screenings will be available from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, June 13, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 14. Athletes also will be able to participate in FUNfitness from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 14. FUNfitness is a comprehensive physical therapy program designed to assess and improve flexibility, functional strength and balance while educating participants, families and coaches about the importance of flexibility, strength and balance. Athletes may participate in Healthy Hearing screenings as well, available from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, June 13, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 14. Healthy Hearing offers tests for cerumen (ear wax) and middle ear tests that are performed by volunteer professionals.
Sponsors of the 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games are:
2014 Gold Medal Sponsors:
- Illinois Knights of Columbus
- Law Enforcement Torch Run
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
2014 Bronze Medal Sponsors:
- American Legion and Auxiliary
- Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Normal Firefighters IAFF Local #2442
- Northstar Lottery Group
- The Snyder Companies
- State Farm Insurance Companies
2014 Venue Sponsors:
- Alexander’s Steak House
- Avanti’s Italian Restaurant
- Shop ’n Save
The Illinois Knights of Columbus, Law Enforcement Torch Run® and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois are Official Partners of Special Olympics Illinois.
Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 19 sports for nearly 21,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 18,500 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics transforms lives by empowering people with intellectual disabilities to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support. If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562 or visit our website at www.soill.org.
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For advance information about Summer Games or Special Olympics Illinois, contact Michele Evans at (309) 888-2573 or Alexandra McMillin at (630) 942-5621. During Summer Games, June 13-15, you may contact Alexandra on cell phone 312-502-7954.
Summer Games competition venues are closed. Media must check in at the media table in Horton Field House to get a media nametag for admission into competition venues (such as inside the track).