If interested in volunteering for this year’s Special Olympics visit the website somo.org/fallgames. This is the final year of Special Olympics being hosted in Southeast Missouri before the program begins in Jefferson City.
Events such as bocce, flag football, golf, soccer, softball and tennis will be played over the course of the week. According to recreation manager Penny Williams, the reason the City of Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department is involved is because they believe everyone deserves an opportunity to train and compete in sporting events.
“We offer many youth and adult sports leagues; they are very popular and successful. We understand that not everyone plays and competes at the same level, and it is our job to provide recreational opportunities for all. Special Olympics provides a program that models the philosophy of the Parks and Recreation Department,” Williams said.
According to Williams it is standard procedure that state events change locations every four years. Parks and Recreation has already placed bids on hosting future events, and Williams is confident that Southeast Missouri will be able to host more events in the future.
The Opening Ceremonies are at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Show Me Center. At this event athletes, parents, coaches, supporters and media will celebrate the beginning of the week. All the athletes will participate in a parade and there will be music and entertainment following the annual running of the torch. Once the torch ceremony is completed the games are officially considered open. This year the band Shades of Soul will be performing for free. Everyone is welcome to come to the opening ceremony to cheer on the athletes and enjoy a free concert.
On that Friday, volunteers are most needed to assist in games such as golf, tennis and bocce. Everyone is also invited to attend the opening ceremony and fill the lower section of the Show Me Center. Williams said the athletes really enjoy when a lot of people are present to cheer them on.
From 11:30a.m. – 3p.m. on Oct. 12 at the Shawnee Parks Sports Complex, a healthy athlete program will be held for a free screening of athletes eyes, teeth, skin and general nutrition. At this time “Victory Village” will commence where athletes and coaches can relax and participate in different activities together.
The closing dinner and celebrations will be from 7-9:30p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 at the gym in Southeast’s Student Recreation Center – North. Dinner will be served to all participants, their family members and supporters. Following dinner will be an evening of carnival games and activities.
Events will continue on Friday, Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct. 13. Flag football, soccer, softball and bocce will all be held at the Shawnee Park Sports Complex, golf will be at the J.C. Municipal golf course and Tennis will be hosted at Southeast’s Redhawks Tennis Complex.
This event is a wonderful opportunity for all the athletes involved. It builds their confidence and serves as a great reminder of what the participants are capable of.
“I think the most enjoyable part of the experience is seeing the athletes travel to a new community, and the reception that they are given when they arrive is incredible,” Williams said. “Every event they attend, every competition site is top notch. The publicity they receive here is like no other. . .The athletes were treated well and will talk about this weekend with friends and family for many years to come. That is what it is all about; making a difference.”