The final leg of the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run will begin this morning (9:30 A.M.) after a torch-lighting ceremony at the state capitol complex. The run will launch the 31st annual Special Olympics Summer Games tonight at Iowa State University in Ames.
Gary Harms is CEO of Special Olympics-Iowa. “We’ve got about 2,700 athletes who will be competing,” Harms says. “We’ll initiate that with our Torch Run. It’ll start in Des Moines and we’ll run the torch into Hilton Coliseum and we’ll start the whole process.” Harms says there’s a long list of sporting events and activities for the athletes during the three days.
“We’ll have everything from track and field to aquatics to bocce, cycling, soccer and tennis,” Harms says. “Beyond the athletic competitions, we also have fit programs, we have healthy eating programs, we have doctors who will come in and give our athletes eye exams, fit them right there with glasses and grind lenses if they need a pair and they’ll walk away with them, no charge.”
Harms says the number of participants in the Special Olympic Games has risen over the course of 31 years in Iowa. “We’ve continued to be fortunate to grow year over year,” he says. “We’ve got about a hundred athletes more this year than we’ve had in previous years and we couldn’t continue to do what we do without all of our volunteers.”
The opening ceremony will be at 7 P.M. at Hilton Coliseum with free admission. Learn more at: www.soiowa.org
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)