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Special Olympics Kentucky to celebrate 45th anniversary at 2015 State Summer Games

Special Olympics Kentucky will celebrate 45 years of service to Kentuckians with intellectual disabilities and their families at the organization’s State Summer Games, June 5-7, at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. The games are Special Olympics Kentucky’s largest event of the year with more than 1,300 athletes competing in five sports and hundreds of coaches and volunteers also taking part.


Opening Ceremonies for the Games will be held on Friday, June 5, beginning at 7 p.m. in The Ravine near the center of the EKU campus (weather permitting). The ceremonies will include the parade of athletes, an appearance by The Bobby Perry Band and the lighting of the Special Olympics cauldron by 2014 Special Olympics Kentucky Athlete of the Year Tee Salinas of Prospect.

This year, the Opening Ceremonies will also include a special appearance by the Unified Relay Across America. The Unified Relay is carrying the Flame of Hope from the east coast of the United State to Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Their route takes them through Kentucky between June 2 and 8, which allowed them to be a part of this year’s State Summer Games. Salinas will light the Summer Games cauldron from that World Games flame. In the event of bad weather, the Opening Ceremonies will be held in Alumni Coliseum.

The Opening Ceremonies will also feature the introduction of the four Kentucky athletes and three coaches who will participate with the Special Olympics USA team at those 2015 World Games. Rhythmic gymnast Danielle Blakeney of Erlanger, bowler Amanda Browning of Shepherdsville, artistic gymnast Lee Dockins of Russellville and swimmer Chris Willis of Owensboro, along with bowling coach Robyn Ballinger of Louisville, equestrian coach Julie Coon of Harrodsburg and gymnastics coach Mary Fehrenbach of Lexington will be in attendance at the State Summer Games.

Competition will begin Friday night immediately following the Opening Ceremonies. Tom Samuels Track will host the distance races and relays beginning at approximately 8:20 p.m. on June 5. There will also be several heats of the shot put competition held on Friday night. The Don Combs Natatorium will also see aquatics action on Friday night, beginning at 8:30 with the short course relay events.

(Photo from Facebook)

(Photo from Facebook)

The main action gets underway early in the morning on Saturday, June 6, with the opening of all remaining competitive events. Athletes will be competing in track and field, swimming, bocce, soccer and rhythmic gymnastics.

The public is encouraged to attend the Opening Ceremonies and all competitions. All are open to the public and there is no admission charge. Most competitions will be underway by 9 a.m.

Saturday’s activities will also include the popular Chick-fil-A Olympic Town area, which includes several interactive activities for athletes and their families. Chick-fil-A Olympic Town is also the location of the annual Healthy Athletes Athlete Wellness Village.

This year’s Healthy Athletes program features a Special Smiles location where athletes can receive dental screenings; an Opening Eyes vision screening venue; a Fit Feet location where athletes can receive podiatric evaluations; and FUN Fitness, which gives physical therapy evaluations. All of the services provided in the Healthy Athlete Village are free to the athletes and provided by volunteers.

Photos from all competitions and other Summer Games activities will be available on line throughout the day here. Photos will be downloadable and can be used for publication.

Saturday’s activities conclude with the official Closing Ceremonies, which begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Coliseum parking lot. Closing ceremonies include the presentation of the pentathlon medals, fireworks and an athlete victory dance.

Volunteers are still needed for several venues at the Games. For volunteer opportunities, contact Justin Harville at 800-633-7403 or jharville@soky.org.

For information about the 2015 Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games, contact Special Olympics Kentucky communications director Mark Buerger at (502) 695-8222 or via e-mail at mbuerger@soky.org.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participation in competitive events is open to all individuals eight years of age or older. Training and competition in local, area, state, and national programs is offered year-round in Kentucky in 15 sports.

In addition to its traditional sports competitions, Special Olympics also offers early childhood programming through the Young Athletes Program and medical screenings though the Healthy Athletes Initiative. Special Olympics Kentucky began as a one-day event in Louisville in 1970 and has expanded to serve more than 7,400 athletes statewide annually. Special Olympics has now been changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in Kentucky for 45 years.

From Special Olympics Kentucky

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