After four years of training, planning and preparing, the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games is underway. The 2014 USA Games kicked off with the Law Enforcement Torch Run on June 12 and will continue through the Closing Ceremony on June 20, introducing the nation to more than 3,500 inspirational athletes who will shatter perceptions and celebrate the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.
The 2014 USA Games Opening Ceremony took place yesterday evening at the Prudential Center and was hosted by actress and model Brooklyn Decker and Philadelphia 76ers Point Guard Michael Carter Williams. It included the traditional Parade of Athletes, athlete oaths and the lighting of the Special Olympics cauldron. Other celebrities who participated during the Opening Ceremony included Glee’s Jane Lynch, Michael DelGuidice & Big Shot, WWE Superstars Big Show and David Otunga. More than 18,000 attendees, including athletes, volunteers, corporate partners, families and spectators were in attendance.
Team Illinois is comprised of 52 athletes, 6 Unified Partners and 15 coaches from all over the state, including Caroline Colianne of Evanston! She will be competing in aquatics this week. This is the largest national games undertaking ever in the United States and will include 16 different sports competitions at 10 different locations including Princeton University, Rider University, The College of New Jersey, Mercer County Park and several private schools in the area. The athletes will be supported by 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers and an anticipated 70,000 spectators. The 2014 USA Games will also debut two new sports for a Special Olympics USA Games movement with the addition of baseball and triathlon.
Sports competition will be held today, Monday, June 16 through Friday, June 20. For a complete competition schedule, please check the Games’ website at www.2014specialolympics.org. For updates about Team Illinois check out the Special Olympics Illinois social media channels: facebook.com/specialolympicsillinois, twitter.com/SO_Illinois and @specialolympicsillinois on Instagram. Join in the conversation using the hashtag #goteamillinois.
Special Olympics Illinois provides opportunities for more than 21,000 athletes, 40,000 volunteers and thousands more people statewide through 18 Area programs in all 102 counties of the state. Special Olympics began in Illinois with the first games at Chicago’s Soldier Field in July 1968. There are now more than four million Special Olympic athletes in 170 countries. To get involved or find out more information please visit soill.org.