44th Annual Special Olympics Begin Today

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A tradition on campus since the 1980s, one of Penn State’s biggest events of the year starts today. University Park will become home to 2,000 athletes, 750 coaches and 2,500 volunteers as the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games kick off from June 6-8.

Athletes will compete in nine sports, from basketball at the IM Building to horseback riding at the Snider Ag Arena. Special Olympics Pennsylvania trains more than 20,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities, promoting self-esteem and improving social skills along the way.

Thanks to an extremely dedicated volunteer base, there are no costs to compete for athletes or their families. Attendees should expect to see local faces like Sue Paterno, who is a Special Olympics PA board member, as well as a number of student athletes willing to sign autographs throughout the week.

Interested athletes who win gold during the week’s friendly competitions may qualify for next summer’s National Games in Mercer County, New Jersey. Here’s a day-by-day selection of some notable events for spectators, who can watch for free:

Thursday, June 6

  • Equestrian showmanship, gaming and trail review — 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at Snider Ag Arena
  • Aquatics prelims/finals — 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. at McCoy Natatorium
  • Day one of golf competition — 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at Centre Hills Golf Course, 153 Country Club Road
  • Track prelims — 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at Penn State Track
  • Opening Ceremonies — At 6:30 p.m., athletes will process from Curtin Road to meet their adoring fans. Bedford County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kellie Goodman Shaffer will emcee the Games’ opening. Speeches will precede the arrival and lighting of the Olympic Torch. Law enforcement officers and others from around the state will carry the torch 150 miles from PNC Park in Pittsburgh to Medlar Field as part of the annual “Be a Fan” Torch Run.  7:15 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park

Friday, June 7

  • Bowling competition — Includes singles, doubles and teams. 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. at Northland Bowl, 1521 Martin St.
  • Equestrian dressage and trail competitions — 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Snider Ag Arena
  • Tennis competition — Includes singles, doubles, and short court — 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m. at Sarni Tennis Facility
  • Sports Fest — Music, entertainment, and food for athletes and families. 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at Bigler Field

Saturday, June 8

  • Basketball competition and awards — 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at IM Building and White Building
  • Softball competition — 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Park Avenue Fields
  • Tennis finals — 9 a.m.-noon at Sarni Tennis Facility
  • Closing Ceremonies — Play-by-play “voice of Penn State football” Steve Jones will emcee the conclusion of the Games. 4:30 p.m.-5 p.m. at Bigler Field

A more detailed schedule of events is available here. For information about volunteering, head here. There’s still time to sign up for volunteer shifts.

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