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Special Olympics athletes celebrate during their event.

OSU hosts 55th Special Olympics Summer Games, 39th on campus

Monday, May 20, 2024

Media Contact: Page Mindedahl | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9782 |

More than 4,600 athletes traveled to Stillwater last week to attend the country’s largest Special Olympics Summer Games. This year marked the 39th Summer Games hosted at Oklahoma State University with the City of Stillwater and the 55th anniversary of the annual event in Oklahoma. 

In 2022, OSU increased opportunities for participation in Special Olympic events by developing the first Special Olympics Unified college program in Oklahoma. The program allows adult Special Olympic athletes to compete alongside Unified partners, who are Unified students, staff and faculty in a variety of sporting events. 

Through OSU Unified, the university welcomes nearly 100 adult athletes for weekly OSU Unified

intramurals. There are weekly opportunities to participate every Thursday evening in addition to the Special Olympics Summer Games in May.

"For over 20 years now, Summer Games has been some of my favorite days to be on the OSU campus. Summer Games expands the Cowboy welcome to thousands of athletes, partners and families every May,” said Dr. Jennifer Jones, OSU Director of the Center for Developmental Disabilities. “I am thrilled that our OSU Unified team will be participating for the second year in Summer Games."

There are many different competitions offered for the athletes to participate in, including track and field, bocce, cornhole, golf, powerlifting, softball, basketball, bowling and tennis. Unified events included basketball, cornhole and bocce. 

“Our athletes look forward to competing in these games and work hard to prepare for this annual event,” said Special Olympics Summer Games Director Jim Scott. “Athletes are not the only ones who benefit from the Summer Games and other similar events. We are increasing opportunities for healthier communities by cultivating understanding and inclusion.”

Unfortunately, due to weather, all outdoor events were canceled on Thursday. However, athletes were still able to participate in a lunch provided by the Special Olympics and attend a dance party, movie, or swim party that night to celebrate the weekend. 

Athlete Will Scott has participated in Special Olympics events his entire life. This weekend, he competed in numerous events and never let the weather bring him down.  

“He started his involvement when he was in elementary school, then all through junior high and high school. Now he's an adult on a Special Olympic team. We've just been coming since he was 10, and he's 26 now,” said Beth Kidd, Will’s mother.

Scott was preparing for his next basketball game in the 3v3 Unified competition held in the Colvin Annex.  

“I love that he gets to come out here and compete,” Kidd said. “There is so much inclusion, and the atmosphere, the love from the other athletes, the families and the volunteers have meant so much over the years.” 

Special Olympics offers events in all 50 states and welcomes more than 4.4 million athletes to participate. 

“Oklahoma State University has been hosting the Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games for close to four decades, and it’s the perfect partnership. It really is the epitome of the Cowboy Code. The athletes and the volunteers end each day of the games knowing they gave it all they had, and they finish what they start. It’s a time of overcoming, belonging and celebration,” First Cowboy Darren Shrum said. “These competitors and volunteers are honorary Cowboys while they’re here, and we are delighted to be part of something that is so meaningful.”

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