Special Olympics Indiana to Hold “Virtual” Summer Games Sports & Fitness Challenge in June & July

by | Jun 4, 2020 | Press Room

Thousands of Special Olympics athletes will compete remotely in at-home challenges spanning five weeks, beginning with an online Flame of Hope Torch Run and Opening Ceremonies on Friday, June 12.

INDIANAPOLIS — Engaging athletes, volunteers, and supporters across the state who are unable to gather for in-person competition or events due to ongoing health and safety concerns, Special Olympics Indiana’s 2020 Summer Games Sports & Fitness Challenge will be held virtually from June 12 to July 25.

The extended at-home challenge is presented as an alternative to the 2020 Indiana Summer Games originally planned for the weekend of June 12 – 14, beginning with an online Flame of Hope Torch Run event and Opening Ceremonies on Friday, June 12. The Flame of Hope Torch Run premieres at 9 a.m. ET—with additional viewing options at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.—while Opening Ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. Both events can be viewed free on the organization’s Facebook page or at soindiana.org.

“Special Olympics Indiana exists to provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to experience the thrill of competition, the joy of inclusion, and the satisfaction of using their abilities to the fullest potential—both on the playing field and off,” said Jeff Mohler, president and CEO of Special Olympics Indiana. “This pandemic has caused our athletes to miss out on many of those experiences for the past three months. And though we are working toward a return to in-person activities as soon as it’s deemed safe, we believe this virtual Summer Games Challenge will encourage athletes to stay active while providing something that we all need right now: hope for the future.”

The Indiana Summer Games is the organization’s largest annual event, drawing 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. But with all in-person events suspended through June 30, this year’s Sports & Fitness Challenge will instead invite participants and teams representing Special Olympics Indiana’s county programs to be “Unified by Hope” while completing daily challenges in adapted versions of typical Summer Games events and other activities to earn points throughout the summer.

Challenges will feature activities that can athletes can do at home, in their neighborhoods, or in parks or other public areas as allowed and while maintaining social distancing protocols. Elements of track and field, bocce, volleyball, basketball, soccer, nutrition, mental health, and general health and fitness will be incorporated.

Awards will be presented to top performers during a Closing Ceremonies and virtual dance party scheduled for Saturday, July 25. The Closing Ceremonies also will be streamed on the organization’s website and Facebook page.

More information about the 2020 Summer Games Sports & Fitness Challenge, the Flame of Hope Torch Run, and the virtual Opening Ceremonies can be found at soindiana.org/hope.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is more than a run: it is the largest public awareness and grass-roots fundraising program for Special Olympics in the world, engaging officers and agencies as champions for acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities. In Indiana, more than a thousand officers participate in LETR activities and Special Olympics events each year, culminating in the annual presentation of the torch during Opening Ceremonies at the Indiana Summer Games. Known as the “Flame of Hope,” the torch symbolizes courage and diversity while celebrating the unification of communities across the globe.

Kicking off Special Olympics Indiana’s 2020 Summer Games Sports & Fitness Challenge June 12 with premieres at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. ET, the Flame of Hope Torch Run is a unique fundraising event bringing together law enforcement officers and agencies from across the state to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics athletes while practicing social distancing in their own communities.

Watch live on Facebook or on our website as we aim to inspire, entertain, and unite athletes and fans across the state while signaling the official start of our 2020 Summer Games Sports & Fitness Challenge. Featuring many of the same elements enjoyed by thousands each year at Indiana State University, the 2020 Opening Ceremonies will include the singing of the national anthem, lighting of the cauldron following the arrival of the Flame of Hope, videos and encouragement from our friends, supporters and athletes across the state, and remarks by board of directors Chair Mark Sherman and President & CEO Jeff Mohler. The evening will wrap up with a virtual dance party hosted via Zoom.

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Special Olympics Indiana is a nonprofit organization that is part of the global Special Olympics movement, using sport, health, education, and leadership programs everyday around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. We are a sports organization that uses the power of sport as a catalyst for social change, working for more than 50 years to open hearts and minds toward people with intellectual disabilities and to create inclusive communities across the state. With the support of over 10,000 coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for more than 18,000 athletes and unified partners at no cost to the participants.


Nathan Barnes, Manager of Grants & Communication
Kelly Ries, Director of Donor Engagement