Let the Games begin

SAHS corrals Special Olympics Summer Games this week

By ERIK SANDIN – Stillwater Gazette

It’s games time.

More than 1,300 Special Olympics athletes from across the state gather Thursday through Saturday at Stillwater Area High School and Flips Gymnastics in White Bear Lake for the Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games.

As athletes and their families and nearly 1,600 volunteers begin arriving in the St. Croix Valley for the event, law enforcement personnel from around Minnesota are carrying the Special Olympics "Flame of Hope" on a 2,00-mile relay through their respective communities.

That Torch Run relay culminates at the Celebration Ceremonies at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the Pony Stadium track. One Special Olympics Minnesota athlete will then light "the Flame of Hope."

The games, however, begin Thursday, one day before the Celebration Ceremonies with track and field events at the stadium from 11:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Track and field continues from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Other athletic events at SAHS are tennis from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and volleyball from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Flips Gymnastics hosts rhythmic gymnastics from 1:45 to 5 p.m. and artistic gymnastics from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

But the Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games are about more than sports. Between competitions, athletes can spend time in Olympic Town playing carnival games and participating in other events.

Athletes also can visit the Law Enforcement Torch Run Plaza to meet officers and see squad cars.

Athletes at the Summer Games also can visit "Healthy Athletes Village" for a series of free medical screenings along with "Healthy Hearing, Fit Feet, Opening Eyes" and "Special Smiles."

In addition to the on-site villages, free trolley rides are offered Friday to and from SAHS to downtown Stillwater and the "Let’s Go Fishing" group hosts boat rides on the St. Croix River Saturday for athletes and coaches.

Visit www.specialolympicsminnesota.org for more information about the Summer Games.