Special Olympics State Summer Games return to full schedule at Eastern Kentucky University June 2-4

The Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games will return to their full pre-pandemic schedule when the event is held June 2-4 at Eastern Kentucky University.

This year’s games will includes the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg and a full Opening Ceremony on Friday, June 2; competition on Friday and Saturday and a Closing Ceremony and victory dance on Saturday evening. The Summer Games are Special Olympics Kentucky’s largest event of the year with more than 1,000 athletes competing in four sports, and hundreds of coaches and volunteers also taking part. This will be the 29th consecutive year that EKU has hosted the Games.

This is the 11th consecutive year that Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives have served as the Platinum Sponsor for the Games. Touchstone Energy is the largest single supporter of the State Summer Games.

Summer Games activities get underway early on June 2 in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort with the opening of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg at 9 am. The Opening Ceremonies will include an appearance by Governor Andy Beshear and Kentucky State Police Commissioner Phillip Burnett. The Final Leg group will then head to the Capitol steps for the lighting of the Special Olympics Torch, followed by a run from the Capitol. Final Leg participants will then carry the torch to Richmond for the Summer Games Opening Ceremonies.

(Photo from Special Olympics Kentucky)

Other stops along the Final Leg, include the annual celebration at Stewart Home and School in Frankfort at 10:30 am with a run from the Stewart Home gate into campus followed by a ceremony with the Stewart Home residents. The torch will then head to Lexington for a run that begins at 1:15 from the Transylvania University Campus to 215 W. Main St. in Downtown Lexington for a brief ceremony and then a run to the Wildcat statue at the University of Kentucky. That will be followed by a stop at the Richmond Police Department at 3:30 followed by a run into campus. The Final Leg participants will also bring the torch into the Opening Ceremonies.

Opening Ceremonies for the Games will begin at 6 pm on June 2 in The Ravine near the center of the EKU campus (weather permitting). The Ceremonies will include the introduction of athletes and the lighting of the Special Olympics cauldron. The torch will be carried in by 2022 Athlete Volunteer of the Year Phillip Riley of Nicholasville and the cauldron will be lit by 2022 Special Olympics Kentucky Athlete of the Year Caitlin Roy of Finchville. The Games will be declared open by 2022 Volunteer of the Year Brian Parsley.

Competition will begin Friday night immediately following the Opening Ceremonies. Tom Samuels Track will host the distance races and relays beginning at approximately 7:30 pm on June 2. There will also be several heats of the softball throw competition held at Turkey Hughes Baseball Field on Friday night, as well as the start of the Unified bocce competition on the EKU intramural fields.

The main action gets underway early in the morning on Saturday, June 2, with the opening of all remaining competitive events. Athletes will be competing in track and field, bocce, soccer and rhythmic gymnastics.

The public is encouraged to attend the Opening Ceremonies and all competitions. All are open to the public and there is no admission charge. Most competitions on Saturday will be underway by 8:00 am.

Saturday’s activities will also include the popular Chick-fil-A Olympic Town area in the Powell Plaza surrounding the EKU Meditation Chapel. Olympic Town includes several interactive activities for athletes and their families.

Athletes will also have the opportunity to visit the Healthy Athletes Wellness Center which will be on the second floor of the Powell Building. The Healthy Athletes Wellness Village features a Special Smiles location where athletes can receive dental screenings; an Opening Eyes vision screening venue; a Fit Feet location where athletes can receive podiatric evaluations; FUN Fitness, which gives physical therapy evaluations; Health Promotions, which offers advice on diet and other healthy lifestyles; and the latest addition Strong Minds, which promotes the building of active coping skills. All services provided in the Healthy Athlete Village are free to the athletes and provided by volunteers.

(Photo from Special Olympics Kentucky)

Photos from all competitions and other Summer Games activities will be available online beginning near the end of the day at flickr.com.

Saturday’s activities conclude with the official Closing Ceremonies, which begin at 7:30 pm in the Alumni Coliseum parking lot. Closing ceremonies include the presentation of the pentathlon medals, fireworks and an athlete victory dance.

“We’ve been back at EKU for the Summer Games in some form since 2021, but we think this year will be really special,” said Special Olympics Kentucky President and CEO Trish Mazzoni. “We thought it was important to get back to competition as soon as we could after 2020. Our athletes and their families were thankful for the opportunities, and it’s been great to be back the last two years with a shortened schedule, but there were still so many things about the Summer Games that our athletes missed. The Opening Ceremonies and the lighting of the cauldron is a very exciting time for everyone that we haven’t been able to hold. And our athletes love the closing dance almost as much as they love their sports. Plus, we are really close to being back at our pre-pandemic participation level, which is very exciting for all of us.”

Volunteers are still needed for several venues at the Games. For volunteer opportunities, contact Michaele Roy at 800-633-7403 or mroy@soky.org.

The 2023 Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games are made possible through the generosity of platinum sponsor Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, Special Olympics Kentucky year-round partners Jersey Mike’s, Texas Roadhouse and Toyota Motor Corporation; Gold Sponsors amentum, Chick-fil-A, EKU the Kentucky Knights of Columbus and Walmart; Silver Sponsors Dever Golf Cars, Richmond Tourism and Southland Dairy Farmers; Bronze Sponsors the City of Richmond, Eastside Community Church, EKU Catering, Fayette Hearing and Air and H2O Maestro, Greentree Forest Products, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Kentucky, LBX Company, Lockheed Martin, Penske Truck Rental, Waste Connections, and Whitaker Bank; and Supporting Sponsors Discover U Kentucky, Frito-Lay and Visual Edge IT.

This will be the fifth year that Chick-fil-A Greater Lexington stores are teaming up to provide all lunches for athletes, coaches and volunteers on Saturday, June 1.

Special Olympics Kentucky

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