Special Olympics games are back

Special Olympics MNOAK PARK HEIGHTS — The Special Olympics Minnesota 2013 Summer Games returns to the St. Croix Valley for a second straight year Thursday through Saturday with athletic events and other activities at Stillwater Area High School.

More than 1,500 athletes from across the state will participate in track and field, gymnastics, tennis and volleyball. The Summer Games is one of seven annual state-wide Special Olympics Minnesota competitions. To mark Special Olympics Minnesota’s 40th anniversary, there will be a variety of celebratory events the community is invited to attend.

The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) is on its final legs this week and ends Friday at SAHS Pony Stadium with the lighting of the “Flame of Hope” torch. The last leg of the 2,000-mile relay began Monday in Moorhead, followed by runs in Rochester, Savage, the west metro, Duluth and Minneapolis. Law enforcement officers throughout Minnesota will pass the “Flame of Hope” throughout the state with the final run ending at the Summer Games Celebration Ceremonies at SAHS.

Special Olympics Minnesota will have its Healthy Athletes program on site Thursday through Saturday, providing athletes with free health screenings to improve their ability to train and compete.

Friday’s Summer Games Celebration Ceremonies will be launched with a performance by the band Live Wire accompanied by a street dance at SAHS, starting at 5:45 p.m. A BMX stunt show presented by Twin Cities Fantasy Factory follows the dance. The lighting of the torch, guest speakers and an athlete parade will be hosted by FOX 9 Meteorologist Cody Matz.

The first-annual Summer Games 5K is a fund-raiser for Special Olympics Minnesota and takes place at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The race goes through Oak Park Heights and ends at SAHS. Registration is currently available on summergames5k.kintera.org, but same-day registration is available from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

For information on Special Olympics Minnesota, the Summer Games, the Law Enforcement Torch Run or the Summer Games 5K, visit specialolympicsminnesota.org.