On May 7-9th Special Olympics Arizona held its summer games, one of our major State competitions. At this year’s games, we had over 1,300 athletes take part in events ranging from track and field to volleyball and power lifting. 1150 volunteers came to help with competition, events, Healthy Athletes, and Olympic Village. Thank you volunteers, you are the backbone of our organization who allow events like this to thrive every year!
The event kicked off at Gila River Arena with the much anticipated opening ceremonies. The final leg of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run concluded the ceremony, lighting the cauldron with the “Flame of Hope”, signifying the opening of the State Summer Games. Thank you to all our sponsors and donors who help provide opportunities like these to our athletes! We would also like to recognize the City of Glendale and Gila River Arena for the use of their wonderful facilities.
Raymond S. Kellis High School, our host for this year’s State Summer Games, is truly one of the pioneers within Project UNIFY. Project UNIFY is a partnership between Special Olympics and the US Department of Education, with a goal to empower and activate youth to develop school communities where all young people are agents of change—fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. For Project UNIFY to be truly transformative, it needs to reach most, if not all students in the school and involve those students in meaningful ways which promote positive attitudes. Project UNIFY gives students the opportunity to lead the next generation of the Special Olympics movement. Raymond S. Kellis High School has created a campus of inclusion where all students are treated as equals.
In addition to all of the summer games hype, the May issue of the Phoenix New Times released an article on Unified Sports authored by Amy Silverman. The article talks about Amy’s daughter Sophie and the experiences she’s had with Special Olympics Arizona within her Unify program. In the article entitled “Game Changer”, Ms. Silverman writes about the great things Raymond S. Kellis High School is doing on its campus. Silverman notes that “Unified Sports has a spot on the varsity photo wall” and that “Unified Athletes routinely speak at Graduation”.
The competitions were not the only remarkable piece of the Special Olympics Arizona Summer Games. Healthy Athletes provides health screenings at several Special Olympics events year round. During Summer Games, over 1600 medical screenings were provided in 6 different disciplines, ranging from podiatry to optometry, throughout the fun fill weekend. With Health and Fitness as a strategic goal, we want to ensure all Special Olympics Arizona athletes are in good health to not only compete at the top of their game on the field, but also have the best quality of life off the field.
Congratulations to all the athletes that competed in the 2015 Summer Games.
As the great Herb Brooks said “You were born to be a player, you were meant to be here, this moment is yours.”