Thousands of Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes, coaches, volunteers, and fans converged on Carroll University in Waukesha for the 50th Anniversary Celebration Games July 29-31. Uniting more than 1,500 athletes, unified partners, and coaches representing 81 local program agencies from across the state; 1,100 volunteers; and 5,000 spectators, the Celebration Games marked Special Olympics Wisconsin’s largest sports competition ever.
This year’s event merged Special Olympics Wisconsin’s annual Outdoor State Games and Summer Games, welcoming statewide qualifying competitors in Athletics (Track & Field), Bocce, Softball, Swimming, and Tennis. In addition to SOWI athletes, the Celebration Games welcomed everyone to this memorable, family-friendly, three-day event. Together, all weekend participants cheered on athletes of all abilities, celebrated inclusion, and experienced the magic of Special Olympics.
Complementing the Saturday-to-Sunday competition slate, four Healthy Athletes disciplines also welcomed hundreds of SOWI delegates throughout the weekend. Healthy Hearing featuring HEAR Wisconsin’s Mobile Audiology Clinic, Opening Eyes, and Special Smiles presented by Delta Dental of Wisconsin took place Saturday with Health Promotion and a foot health station occurring Sunday. Nearly 300 health screenings across all disciplines were completed—free and available to all SOWI athletes.
Additionally, AMI Expeditionary Healthcare partnered with Special Olympics Wisconsin Unified Leadership Specialists Lexi Galarowicz and Edward Kastern to host a COVID Education Station & Vaccine Clinic Saturday and Sunday.
To fully celebrate 50 Years of Changing Lives, Special Olympics Wisconsin added a series of inclusive and family-friendly events open to the community. A Parade of Athletes showcasing qualifying programs from across the state kicked off Friday night, followed by the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg and Opening Ceremony presented by Keep Calm featuring keynote speaker Bonnie Blair. Victory Village presented by Princeton Club brought together local vendors, sponsors, demonstrations, and SOWI unified activities throughout the weekend. And Saturday evening, DJ Shawna, official DJ and producer of the Milwaukee Bucks, capped off the “Day of Inclusion” at the Victory Jubilee.
Vice President of Unified Leadership, Jeanne Hrovat, also hosted an incredible array of historical photos, videos, artifacts, and other memorable gems at the 50th Anniversary Museum—truly showcasing the roots of the Special Olympics Wisconsin movement.
Fifty years ago, Special Olympics Wisconsin set out to create a more accepting world for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID). Now, SOWI is one of Wisconsin’s premier sports organizations, eliminating barriers and providing inclusive opportunity and support for athletes with ID as a leader in the community and the Authority of Inclusion.