With the State Summer Games about to kick off, here are a few fun – maybe even essential – things to know before making your way to UW-Stevens Point for the biggest sports event of the year
- In 2018 SOWI is celebrating its 40th year at the UW-Stevens Point campus! That’s right, UW-Stevens Point has hosted Special Olympics Wisconsin’s largest sports event since 1979!
- This year, 1,356 SOWI athletes will be competing in 57 different events in the categories of athletics (track and field), swimming, and soccer.
- As part of our Unified Sports program, 9 Unified teams will be competing in track and field relays with 19 partners teamed up with SOWI athletes for exciting Unified action.
- FREE health screenings! There will be four Healthy Athletes disciplines offered at Summer Games including Health Promotions, Opening Eyes and Special Smiles and Healthy Hearing. All SOWI athletes with a current medical on file are welcome, even if they are not competing at Summer Games. Last year there were over 500 screenings. Let’s top that in 2018!
- SOWI is honored to have Rebecca Ribley serve as emcee for the Opening Ceremony. Ribley joined 27 News Wake Up Wisconsin as morning show co-anchor this past April on WKOW. Before joining WKOW, Ribley co-anchored the evening news at WAOW TV in Wausau. Originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area, she has enjoyed becoming a Wisconsinite during the past four years. Ribley coached for the Wausau-Metro Area Special Olympics in multiple sports and will soon be coaching with the West Madison Area Special Olympics. She will be joined by her co-emcee, SOWI athlete Trevor Gaska. Gaska will be representing Team Wisconsin in basketball at the 2018 USA Games. Ribley has recently been working on a series of stories for WKOW on Gaska and his preparation for the USA Games.
- 2018 is a major milestone for Special Olympics as we celebrate 50 years of a movement that has changed the world. Since 1968, Special Olympics has helped change attitudes about the talents of people with intellectual disabilities. During the Opening Ceremony audience members will get to watch a special 50th anniversary video looking back on Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s infamous Special Olympics inauguration speech to our very own Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete’s past competition. Join us in Chicago July 17 through July 21 — and help us launch an Inclusion Revolution!
- In honor of Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary, the dance this year will be 50th anniversary-themed. So don your gold party hats or vintage Special Olympics shirts to help us celebrate 50 amazing years!
- 54 Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes and Unified partners will be heading to Seattle, Washington for the 2018 USA Games from July 1-6, 2018. You can help celebrate our Team Wisconsin delegation as we recognize them during these State Summer Games during our Opening Ceremony.
- The Opening Ceremony will include guest speaker Marquis Garner, who is a published author and Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete. His book Have You Ever Wished You Were Someone Else?: Carrying the Weight of Autism tells his trials and triumphs of living with autism, from battling depression after being bullied by his peers, to earning a bachelor’s degree from Midwest Bible College even when his teachers said it wasn’t possible.
- For the 32ndyear in a row, the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) for Special Olympics Wisconsin will escort the Flame of Hope to the UW-Stevens Point campus in the days leading up to the Opening Ceremony. Taking place from June 4 right up to the Opening Ceremony on June 7, hundreds of law enforcement personnel – along with supporters, family and friends – will participate in more than 30 communities across Wisconsin.
- You can still volunteer! We are looking for over 600 volunteers to help make the State Summer Games a success. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering please visit our website to register today!
For more information on the State Summer Games, check out our State Summer Games handbook. See you in Stevens Point!