TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A Summer Games Torch Run event Friday kicked off Special Olympic activities in Terre Haute. Law enforcement officers and agencies from across the state gathered in support of athletes and their communities by carrying the “Flame of Hope” into Terre Haute and lighting the Olympic cauldron.
Following a year filled with virtual events and a variety of at-home challenges, Special Olympics Indiana athletes and volunteers will return to Terre Haute with in-person competition scheduled for June 12-13 at Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
“In 2019, Special Olympics Indiana celebrated our 50th Anniversary at Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Who knew that would be our last time together, in-person, until now?” said Jeff Mohler, president and CEO of Special Olympics Indiana. “Two years later, we are back — and these Games are more important to our athletes and to Special Olympics Indiana than even those 50th Anniversary Games.”
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The Games also will include a bowling competition June 11 at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, as well as virtual Opening Ceremonies June 10 and virtual Closing Ceremonies June 19. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies each will begin at 8 p.m. ET and can be viewed free on the organization’s Facebook page or at www.soindiana.org.
As the organization’s largest annual event, the Indiana Summer Games typically draw nearly 3,000 athletes and several thousand coaches, volunteers, Unified partners, and supporters to Terre Haute each June for three days of state finals competition in eight Olympic-type sports. With health and safety protocols in place and some necessary adaptations to the typical format — including COVID screenings for all participants, mask requirements when indoors, and limits on spectators and venue capacities — this year’s Games will be smaller in scale but will nevertheless rank as Special Olympics Indiana’s largest in-person competition since 2019. Approximately 1,200 athletes are expected to participate in Indianapolis and Terre Haute, competing in bocce, bowling, cycling, horseshoes, swimming, track & field, and volleyball.
“These Games represent a homecoming,” Mohler said. “They are the beginning of a return to in-person sports, programs, and activities throughout the state. As we celebrate our return to Terre Haute, we remember. We are appreciative of all those who give so much. We are appreciative of all we have. We are thankful.”
The theme of the 2021 Indiana Summer Games is “Be Brave,” an homage to the Special Olympics Athlete Oath (“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”) and a challenge to all those willing and able to safely return to the playing field this year after so much time apart. A special commemorative medal featuring the theme will be awarded to all participants, with additional souvenirs available for purchase.
For more information about Special Olympics Indiana’s 2021 Summer Games, including competition schedules and details about volunteering, visit www.soindiana.org/summer-games.