STILLWATER, Okla. — Adrian DeWendt is the president and CEO of Special Olympics Oklahoma.
1 Can you give some background about Special Olympics and the Summer Games that are held in Stillwater?
Special Olympics Oklahoma benefits more than 10,000 athletes statewide and is supported by over 1,700 volunteer coaches and thousands of sponsors, donors and volunteers conducting more than 140 sports competitions and training clinics every year. This is Special Olympics Oklahoma’s 45th Summer Games and the 31st year Summer Games competitions have been hosted by Stillwater and Oklahoma State University.
2 How many people come to Stillwater for the Summer Games?
The 2014 Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games continues to be the biggest amateur sporting event in Oklahoma every year. This year we have 4,653 registered athletes and 1,638 registered coaches. There will be more than 10,000 individuals in Stillwater over the course of this three-day event, including corporate and individual volunteers, family members, the athletes and coaches.
3 When do the Summer Games begin and how long do they run in Stillwater?
Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games run from Wednesday at 9 a.m. through Friday around 2:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies in OSU’s Gallagher-Iba Arena is on Wednesday night with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and opening ceremonies beginning at 7:30 p.m. In addition to the athletic competitions, volunteers who have been working many hours throughout the year will begin arriving on Sunday afternoon to begin setting up venues. They will work non-stop throughout the week until Friday afternoon when the last truck is packed and pulls out of Stillwater.
4 What kinds of events are part of the Summer Games and are they open to the public?
A total of 10 sports are offered during Summer Games including athletics, bocce, 3 on 3 basketball, bowling, golf, horseshoes, motor activities training, powerlifting, under 8 young athletes program and unified softball. All of the events are open to the public to participate as spectators and cheer on the athletes. Summer Games is primarily about the athletes competing in the sports in which they have trained and competed within their community of the state. However, Summer Games offers more than just athletic competitions. The athletes and visitors get to enjoy Olympic Village and opening ceremonies among many other opportunities for the athletes. A highlight of the athletes’ experience is the dance on Thursday night at the Stillwater High School stadium. The dance, bingo, swim party and movies are a great time for registered athletes, their family members and registered volunteers to have even more fun.