INDIANAPOLIS — The opportunity of a lifetime has begun for 100 Special Olympics Indiana athletes, Unified partners and coaches — collectively known as Team Indiana — who departed Indianapolis June 3-4 on their way to compete at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Fla.

Team Indiana participants received a hero’s sendoff, with friends and family cheering their departure on private jets during the Airlift Sendoff Celebration on June 4. Million Air Indianapolis and Textron Aviation Indianapolis were pleased to support Team Indiana’s Airlift by hosting a departure point for the event on June 4 and supporting return flights on June 12.

The 2022 USA Games will be held June 5-12 in Orlando, uniting more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean during one of the country’s most cherished sporting events. Representing Special Olympics Indiana on the national stage, Team Indiana’s delegation will include 51 athletes, 20 Unified partners, 19 coaches and 10 support staff. The USA Games will feature competition in 19 Olympic-type sports, with Team Indiana fielding teams for basketball, bocce, bowling, golf, softball, swimming, track and field, and volleyball and youth leadership.

“For our athletes, partners and coaches, these USA Games are the culmination of more than a year of intense physical training and conditioning,” said Special Olympics Indiana President and CEO Jeff Mohler. “They are also a testament to the spirit of perseverance and dedication that’s at the heart of our movement. The members of Team Indiana have overcome significant challenges over the past two years to make it to Orlando, and they’re ready to take the national stage. I’m proud of our team.”

As part of the ceremony and tradition that happens once every four years with Special Olympics USA Games, the Airlift is a signature community event organized and coordinated by Textron Aviation, a Textron Inc (NYSE:TXT) company, with assistance from Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker owners and operators, industry champions and employee volunteers. Nationally, each participating aircraft receives a special Dove call sign that affords priority treatment in the National Airspace System so the massive Airlift stays on schedule on both transport days.

Outbound flights to this year’s USA Games took off from locations across the United States. Team Indiana departed in two groups and 38 members participated in the Airlift, organized by Textron Aviation with ground handling and flight support services provided by Million Air. This was the eighth Special Olympics Airlift for Textron Aviation and the first for Million Air Indianapolis. Since the first Airlift in 1987 nearly 10,000 athletes and coaches from across the United States have been transported to Special Olympics USA Games and World Games.

“Travel is the largest expense for Special Olympics programs, and we are able to help these deserving athletes compete at the highest level thanks to our generous customers who donate the use of their aircraft, pilots and fuel,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation. “Not only does the Airlift help offset costs, flying on a business aircraft allows the athletes — many of whom have never flown — to travel to the games hassle-free with their gear and teammates. It’s a memorable and meaningful experience for everyone involved.”

During the Airlift, a Cessna Citation, Beechcraft King Air, Beechcraft Premier, Beechjet or Hawker aircraft will land at Orlando Executive Airport every 2-3 minutes to transport nearly 1,000 athletes and coaches from more than 30 departure locations across the United States to Orlando for the eight-day event.

The Opening Ceremony for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games will be hosted at Exploria Stadium. The event will broadcast on the ESPN and ABC family of networks on June 5. The USA Games will be hosted at various venues across Orlando, with the main location being ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. Other sporting facilities across Orlando include Boardwalk Bowl Entertainment Center, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Lake Minneola Waterfront Park, Lucky’s Lake, Orange County National Gold Center, Osceola Heritage Park, Rosen Aquatic Center and USTA National Campus.