What began more than a decade ago as a single-day event held in honor of the founder of Special Olympics has grown into the second-largest annual statewide competition for Special Olympics Indiana.

The 11th annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) Games begin Sept. 10 and continue through Nov. 19 at multiple venues throughout Central Indiana. Hundreds of athletes and Unified partners from around Indiana will participate in seven different sports during the series.

The first EKS Games took place in Indiana in 2011 after a group of Special Olympics athlete leaders recommended holding a competition in honor of Shriver, Special Olympics’ founder who passed away in 2009. Many events throughout the 2022 series will showcase both traditional and Unified sports — bringing athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together on the same team and playing field to foster friendship and promote inclusion.

Following a recently concluded round of qualifying events, the 2022 EKS Games will kick off with the state softball championship, as nearly 30 teams compete from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the Center Grove Lassie League (110 N. Morgantown Road, Greenwood).

The next weekend, more than 300 athletes and Unified partners will participate in the state golf tournament from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 17 at Hickory Stick Golf Club (4422 Hickory Stick Blvd., Greenwood).

The EKS Games will continue Sept. 24 at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Complex (1900 E. Main St., Danville), where around 30 athletes will compete in the state equestrian championships. The event will feature competition from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in both English and Western-style riding.

The largest competition day of the series is Oct. 2, drawing nearly 900 athletes to participate in distance run/walk and flag football at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory Academy (2801 W. 86th St., Indianapolis) as well as corn toss at Zionsville Middle School (900 Ford Road, Zionsville). Competition and other activities are scheduled from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Nearly 650 Brebeuf students will volunteer that day, led by the school’s 24-member Student Athlete Leadership Team, which annually works with Special Olympics Indiana staff to plan and execute all facets of the events taking place at Brebeuf. The event is the culmination of months of planning for staff and students, showcasing the entire school community’s dedication to service.

Finally, the EKS Games will conclude at the Unified volleyball state championships on Nov. 17 at the Munciana Volleyball Center (200 S. 600 West, Yorktown).

All events throughout the EKS Games are free and open to the public, and fans are encouraged to attend.