From all corners of Iowa, hundreds of athletes with intellectual disabilities will be headed for Ames today for the start of the Iowa Special Olympics Summer Games being held in Hilton Coliseum at Iowa State University.
Special Olympics Iowa spokeswoman Stephanie Kocer says the event has grown significantly over its 33 years. “We have a bunch of different things going on,” Kocer says. “There’s swimming, track and field, bocce, cycling, soccer, tennis and developmental events. We also have an Olympic festival where athletes go between their competitions. There’s face-painting and activities and food.”
The annual Torch Run will be held today as Iowa law officers literally run the torch from Des Moines to Ames in time for tonight’s opening ceremonies. Kocer says the stadium will be buzzing during the three-day annual event.
“We have 2,500 athletes that are competing and we have over 1,000 coaches and about 1,500 volunteers who are all involved over the three days,” she says. Kocer says there are no losers in the Special Olympics.
“Our athletes compete and they get places but it’s also all about having fun, too,” Kocer says. “I know our athletes are really serious about their events but they also love coming and meeting new friends and seeing old friends and having that social aspect.”
The games will conclude on Saturday. Learn more at: www.soiowa.org.
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)