Special Olympics Summer Games return to OSU campus
Monday, May 9, 2022
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After two years of cancellations because of COVID-19, the Oklahoma Special Olympics Summer Games will return to the Oklahoma State University-Stillwater campus May 11-13.
This year will mark the 37th Summer Games hosted at OSU and the 52nd anniversary of the Summer Games in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Special Olympics are a part of OSU’s long history and connection with the Special Olympics.
“Oklahoma State University is proud of the partnership with the City of Stillwater and Special Olympics Oklahoma to welcome these athletes, coaches and volunteers to campus,” said First Cowboy Darren Shrum. “Special Olympics and the athletes have a special place in my heart. I can’t wait to help with the events and watch the competitive spirit that will be in full effect. Celebrating the athletes and building a sense of community fits in perfectly with the Cowboy culture.”
More than 200 teams and approximately 2,700 athletes will compete in three full days of competitions on OSU’s campus, including track and field, bocce, cornhole, golf, horseshoes, powerlifting and unified softball.
“Stillwater is the largest Special Olympics Summer Games in the country and for several years, the largest amateur athletic event in Oklahoma,” said Jim Scott, the Special Olympics Summer Games director.
While the event is hosted by the City of Stillwater and utilizes OSU facilities, what really makes it run smoothly is the volunteers and workers who are committed to its success.
Sgt. Adam Queen of the OSU Police Department is one of those, and, while it is technically part of his job function, he looks forward to it each year. Queen helps with the security and safety of all the athletes and volunteers.
“I thoroughly enjoy doing it,” he said. “I fully expect to keep being in this position until they make me quit.”
Queen has been working with Special Olympics for longer than he can remember. He has been a member of OSUPD for 21 years and has worked with the Olympics in one form or another for most of those, he said.
“Hundreds and hundreds of people volunteer their time to be a part of it,” Queen said.
Part of what makes the event so great is the community’s focus on taking care of the athletes' needs. Each year, doctors and specialists — from eye doctors to dentists to audiologists — volunteer to provide check-ups and care, Queen said.
“All these doctors volunteer. They bring all their equipment and set up and the athletes get all this stuff taken care of,” he said.
Participants will also have the opportunity to experience Olympic-style ceremonies, an Olympic Village and several other activities such as Stars of the Future for those aged 8 and younger and motor activities.
“Our athletes look forward to competing in these games, it gives them something to look forward to,” Scott said. “Athletes are not the only ones who benefit from this event and others similar. We are increasing opportunities for healthier communities by cultivating understanding and inclusion.”
Athletes have been unable to compete for the past couple of years because of the pandemic, so when the opening ceremonies begin at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night, there will be palpable excitement in the atmosphere.
“There's so much that is just awesome about this whole experience that flies under the radar,” Queen said. “There's a lot of good that comes from it. It's a great several days that we get to help out with.”
The Summer Games final packet with competition information and schedule is available online at sook.org/summer-games-final-packet/
Hall of Fame Avenue in Stillwater will be closed Tuesday morning starting at 9 a.m. from Knoblock Street to Washington Street for the Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games.