TERRE HAUTE — Offering three days of competition and achievement, friendship and fun, ceremony and celebration, Special Olympics Indiana will host its 52nd annual Summer Games June 17-19 on and around the campuses of Indiana State and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
The organization’s largest annual event, the 2022 Summer Games will represent a return to full, in-person festivities and competition, with around 2,000 athletes from across the state expected to take part. Throughout the weekend, Special Olympics Indiana will pay tribute to its history, with the unveiling of a documentary about former Brooklyn Dodger and program patron Carl Erskine, while also celebrating new triumphs by highlighting the members of Team Indiana, who competed at the recently concluded 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Fla.
For athletes, Summer Games are the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work and dedication to their sport. Athletes train and practice regularly with their teammates before competing at the county and area levels, all in preparation for these three days of state-level competition in nine Olympic-type sports. Utilizing the first-class sports facilities at Indiana State and Rose-Hulman, Summer Games will provide a tournament atmosphere for participants, who look forward to competing in front of huge crowds of cheering fans.
For the first time, soccer will be included as an official sport at Summer Games along with bocce, bowling, cycling, horseshoes, powerlifting, swimming, track and field, and volleyball. Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners representing 50 delegations from every part of the state will compete throughout the weekend, with an additional 1,000 coaches and 2,200 volunteers plus family members and supporters expected to make the journey to Terre Haute.
For the first time since 2019, Summer Games will include in-person Opening Ceremonies at 7:30 p.m. June 17 at the Hulman Center, featuring a Parade of Athletes, live entertainment, ceremonial lighting of the Flame of Hope, and remarks from Special Olympics Indiana President and CEO Jeff Mohler as well as documentary filmmaker Ted Green, creator of “The Best We’ve Got: The Carl Erskine Story.” Olympic Town presented by Duke Energy will also be back this year, offering a variety of activities, souvenirs and entertainment for athletes, coaches and family members.
Along with competition, Summer Games will also emphasize improving health and fitness through Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes® and Healthy Communities® initiatives. Free screenings and instruction will be offered to all athletes in six disciplines, with clinical directors overseeing stations focused on vision, dentistry, podiatry, audiology, physical therapy, and overall health and well-being.
In response to a statistic showing as many as half of all Special Olympics athletes may be wearing improper or ill-fitting footwear (many of them suffering health problems as a result), JD/Finish Line will generously provide a free pair of shoes and socks to athletes competing at Summer Games. Finish Line is a global partner of Special Olympics International and a champion sponsor of Special Olympics Indiana, also sending hundreds of volunteers to Summer Games each year.
Summer Games are free and open to the public to attend. Volunteers are still needed to support all aspects the event. Those interested can visit SOIndiana.org for additional information or walk up at Summer Games venues to register on site.