Nearly 3,000 Iowans with intellectual disabilities are heading for Ames to compete in the Special Olympics Iowa State Summer Games. The event opens Thursday and will feature 22 Olympic-type sports for adults and children, according to Joyce Allard, spokeswoman for Special Olympics Iowa.

Allard says, “We have 2,800 athletes from all across the state that will be coming to Iowa State University to compete and be part in the opening ceremonies and a number of different activities.” She says Ames is also expecting 1,200 coaches and chaperones and another two-thousand volunteers to help make the big event a success. Allard says one of the emotional, inspirational highlights is the kickoff, which starts at 7 P-M Thursday.

“All the teams parade into Hilton Coliseum and they’re welcomed by the Knights of Columbus and all their friends and families,” Allard says. “Also, part of the opening ceremonies is the official flame-lighting ceremony where the Law Enforcement Torch Run officers and an athlete will run in and light the cauldron to officially start the games.” Allard says the competition runs three days and is wide-ranging in scope.

Events include: swimming, track and field, bocce, cycling, soccer, tennis and rollerskating. For more information about the event and the Special Olympics, visit: “www.soiowa.org“.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City