Special Olympics Indiana Holds “Virtual” Summer Games: Sports & Fitness Challenge

Thousands of Special Olympics Indiana athletes will compete remotely in at-home challenges spanning over five weeks.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - In an effort to engage Special Olympics athletes, volunteers, and supporters throughout Indiana, the Special Olympics Indiana’s 2020 Summer Games: Sports and Fitness Challenge is being held virtually.  

Last weekend began the festivities with an online Flame of Hope Torch Run and Opening Ceremonies on Friday, June 12.

“Special Olympics Indiana exists to provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to experience the thrill of competition, the joy of inclusion, and the satisfaction of using their abilities to the fullest potential—both on the playing field and off,” said Jeff Mohler, president and CEO of Special Olympics Indiana. “This pandemic has caused our athletes to miss out on many of those experiences for the past three months. And though we are working toward a return to in-person activities as soon as it’s deemed safe, we believe this virtual Summer Games challenge will encourage athletes to stay active while providing something that we all need right now: hope for the future.”

While the Indiana Summer Games is the organization's largest annual event bringing nearly 3,000 athletes and several thousand coaches, volunteers, Unified partners, and supporters to Terre Haute for three days of state finals competition in June, all in-person events were suspended through June. 

The 2020 Sports and Fitness Challenge is inviting participants and teams to be "Unified by Hope" by representing Special Olympics Indiana's county programs and completing daily challenges in an adapted version of typical Summer Games events to earn point throughout the summer. 

Challenges will include activities that can be done at home, in neighborhoods, or in parks or other public areas as allowed and while maintaining social distancing. Activities such as track and field, bocce, volleyball, basketball, soccer, nutrition, mental health, and general health and fitness will all be incorporated.

From Ripley, Ohio, and Dearborn Counties' program, over 100 participants have signed up to participate. 

A virtual awards ceremony and dance party will be held on Saturday, July 25 to recognize the top performers across the state and celebrate the closing of the games. 

The Closing Ceremonies will be live streamed on the Special Olympics website and Facebook. 

Local athletes from Ripley, Ohio and Dearborn Counties will receive a “Unified by Hope” t-shirt as an incentive for participating.

The local program is actively seeking sponsorships to cover cost of t-shirts. This will also be counted as a fundraiser, considering several fundraisers were cancelled this year, including the annual Fire Truck Pull.

Businesses, organizations, or individuals interested in sponsoring may contact County Program Coordinator, Greg Townsend at (812) 584-6861 or gtownsend@soindiana-rod.org.

More information about the 2020 Summer Games: Sports & Fitness Challenge, the Flame of Hope Torch Run, and the virtual Opening Ceremonies or Closing Ceremonies can be found at soindiana.org/hope.

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