Nearly 1,200 athletes from across the state were welcomed to compete in the 2023 Special Olympics Wisconsin Summer Games on the campus of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Summer Games featured competition in Athletics (Track & Field), Cornhole, Powerlifting (supported by USA Powerlifting), Soccer, and Tennis from June 8-10, 2023.
An Opening Ceremony in Perkins Stadium celebrated all athletes, coaches, family, and fans Thursday night, emceed by athlete and SOWI staff member, Jaime Jenks and SOWI Board Member, Julia Fello. The pair welcomed special guests to the program including Whitewater City Manager John Weidl, UW-Whitewater Chancellor Dr. Corey A. King, area Knights of Columbus, and members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Wisconsin, who also completed the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run preceding the ceremony. All Opening Ceremony guest speakers empowered SOWI athletes to commence a successful 2023 Summer Games!
Hosted by the Youth Activation Committee (YAC), all athletes, families, coaches, and volunteers hit the dance floor in Kachel Fieldhouse Friday night to boogie down at the Disney themed Victory Dance. Athletes dressed up as their favorite Disney characters while dancing the night away to music provided by DJ Frank Jewell from Sound and Light, Inc.
Enhancing the Summer Games sports competitions were a series of health-focused activities providing free health screenings on Friday and Saturday with the help of more than 100 professional/medical volunteers. Special Smiles® provided by Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation performed 175 free dental screenings to increase awareness of oral health. The Health Promotion venue took in 150 athletes for health screenings to measure Body Mass Index (BMI), Bone Mineral Density (BMD) and Blood Pressure. A fun and colorful environment featured interactive, educational and motivational activities to encourage athletes to improve their nutrition, keep physically active and modify their daily habits to help reduce their risk for disease and improve sport performance.
Around 95 athletes stopped by Fit Feet to receive screenings of the medical wellness of their feet, education on foot and nail care provided by podiatrists and podiatry students and take home a complementary pair of socks and orthotics for athletes in need. HEAR Wisconsin’s Mobile Audiology Clinic (MAC) was onsite, providing free hearing screenings for athletes, coaches, family and friends. In addition, HEAR WI staff was available for hearing aid checks/cleaning. On Friday, the Family Health Forum was offered for attendees to learn about how to improve fitness habits at home, including physical activity, healthy eating, and hydration.
Victory Village was located on UW-Whitewater grounds Friday and Saturday to feature a variety of vendors with activities, giveaways, and information for athletes, coaches, families, and fans. Vendors included All of Us Research Program from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fans in the Stands, HEAR Wisconsin, Law Enforcement Torch Run, Lutheran Counseling Family Services, Merchandise/Souvenirs, the Milwaukee Brewers Street Team, Unified Champion Schools/Young Athletes, UW-Whitewater LIFE Program for Students with Disabilities, and Waisman Center Youth Health Transition Initiative.
Victory Village also housed the SOWI Athlete Leadership Activation Station where athletes could learn more about Special Olympics Wisconsin’s ongoing Athlete Leadership Programs and sign up to serve in meaningful leadership roles other than, or in addition to sports.
Over 600 volunteers complemented the hundreds of games management staff, officials, coaches, and families who made the weekend one to celebrate. The event was sponsored by Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Wisconsin; Dunkin’; Jersey Mike’s; Knights of Columbus; Kriete Truck Centers; Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation; Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association; and OUR TEAM partners Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Admirals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Milwaukee Bucks.
Special Olympics Wisconsin would like to extend a special thank you to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater staff and community for being incredible first-year hosts for the Summer Games.
With the completion of the Summer Games brings the fall sport season. A pair of State Golf Tournaments (Southern and Northern) will take place on July 23 and August 26, respectively. Then, three other fall sports will culminate at the 2023 Fall Games, welcoming statewide athletes in Bocce, Flag Football, and Softball to Woodside Sports Complex in Wisconsin Dells from September 8-10, 2023.Check out the Summer Games Photo Galleries on Flickr!