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Summer Games – a weekend filled with fierce competition, family fun, hanging out with old friends, meeting new friends, watching your favorite sports, and enjoying fun summer times. Summer Games is well known for its various activities and events, such as the outdoor Opening Ceremony at Illinois State University’s Hancock Stadium, Olympic Town, and Victory Dance in Uptown Normal. No matter your interest, there’s always something fun to take part in at Summer Games.

And this year, we are adding to the fun – yes, it’s possible! Keep a look out for two additions at this year’s Summer Games:

Meet the Inspired

Meet the Inspired is premiering its first show on Saturday at Olympic Town. Led by Athlete Leaders Daniel Smrokowski, Lisa Noble, Kaylee McLaughlin, and Jose Moreno, this show will focus on a variety of topics. Throughout the day, you will hear the Athlete Leaders’ discussions on Summer Games, USA Games, Athlete Leadership, and more, as well as interviews from special guests.

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Athlete Leader and show host, Lisa Noble, says the goal of Meet the Inspired is “to show people what individuals with intellectual disabilities are capable of doing.” She is most excited to be able to collaborate with her fellow Athlete Leaders and build awareness for people with intellectual disabilities.

Each host of Meet the Inspired has their own podcast series – Jose Moreno’s Live with Jose TV, Lisa Noble’s Amazing Individuals, Daniel Smrokowski’s Special Chronicles, and Kaylee McLaughlin’s Be Kind with Kaylee. All four are excited to continue sharing their passion for creating a more inclusive world through broadcast.

Tune into the livestream on Saturday, June 18 at 11:30 AM to listen. Or, if you’re in Normal on Saturday, stop by Olympic Town and watch the excitement happen live!

eSports

One thing Summer Games is also known for is just that, it’s in the summer! After a hot day out in the sun, it is fun to keep that competitive spirit from the comfort of the indoors. The second addition to this year’s Summer Games is an eSports station.

Game On will have an eSports truck on site at Olympic Town on Saturday. Any Special Olympics Illinois athlete or Unified Partner who is interested in trying their hand at eSports, or just wanting to check it out, is welcome to join in.

Special Olympics Illinois (SOILL) eSports began in April of 2020 during the pandemic when in-person sports weren’t an option. Since then, SOILL eSports has grown to impressive heights, with two Unified teams from Illinois making it big at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in early June.

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Mac Dougan, Assistant Director of Digital Initiatives, heads up the SOILL eSports program. “eSports, in its most simple form, is a prime example of Unified play,” he says, “Whether it’s with a controller or a ball, the result remains the same – SOILL eSports provides opportunities for athletes to compete, have fun, and do their best in whatever way they can. We are excited to include eSports at Summer Games this year, and we invite any interested athlete, family member, and friend to join our community.”

Other SOILL eSports summer opportunities include the Summer League, which begins on Wednesday, June 29, as well as the Summer Tournament with Special Olympics Kentucky and Pennsylvania. These events are open to any athlete or Unified Partner who is interested. Go to esports.soill.org to learn more and sign up.

Needless to say, Summer Games has been, and will continue to be, one of the most fun times of the year at Special Olympics Illinois. To learn more about Summer Games, head to soill.org/summergames.