Nearly 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from throughout the United States, including Illinois, will travel to New Jersey to compete before tens of thousands of spectators and volunteers June 14-21, 2014. The Special Olympics USA Games will celebrate the Special Olympics movement, promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport and showcase athletes from throughout the U.S.
Special Olympics transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Life for a disabled person is difficult. Having a program that allows them to excel raises their self-esteem and enhances physical, motor skills, and social skills while encouraging family members and community support.
The Special Olympics Illinois is involved in a major way in this important event where it will be sending a delegation of 53 athletes, 6 Unified Partners and 17 coaches to New Jersey this year. These athletes will compete in aquatics, athletics, bocce, bowling, powerlifting, traditional and Unified golf, artistic gymnastics, volleyball and Unified soccer. Unified sports combine equal numbers of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team.
From 16 different sports competitions in some of the top sports venues in the state including PrincetonUniversity to the creation of a Jersey Shore-themed Olympic Town complete with boardwalk for the athletes, the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games will showcase the achievements and determination of Special Olympics athletes nationwide. The Special Olympics athletes will participate in spectacular Special Events from the moment they arrive including New Jersey Welcome Day, Opening Ceremony at Prudential Center, boat cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, Sports Showcases and the Closing Ceremony at Sun National Bank Center.
You can show your support for Team Illinois is by taking part in the Virtual Sendoff on June 6. Everyone is encouraged to wear red, or Special Olympics gear, and post photos or words of encouragement to their social media pages using the hashtag #goteamillinois. Solicit family members, friends or colleagues and pose with a homemade sign expressing your support, or download the photo available on the Special Olympics Illinois Facebook event page.
The 2014 USA Games will also focus on Special Olympics’ work in sport, education, health and communities. Founding partners for the 2014 Special Olympic USA Games include 21st Century Fox, Barnabas Health, HESS, KPMG, Prudential, PSE&G, Shop Rite, Toys ‘R’ Us and WWE. www.2014specialolympics.org, Facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsUSAGames, @2014USAGames.
Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 19 sports for nearly 21,500 Traditional Athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 18,500 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities.
If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562 or visit their website at www.soill.org.