Special Olympics to be held at Calvin

file photo
file photo

This Saturday, hundreds of athletes and participants will be running, jumping, and swimming across Calvin’s campus as part of this year’s Special Olympics.

Starting at 8:00 a.m. with a parade of athletes and opening ceremonies and concluding with closing ceremonies at 2:00 p.m., the Special Olympics at Calvin promises to be an event focused on encouragement and ability, with involvement opportunities for Calvin students.

The Special Olympics is a program that has served over four million athletes since 1968, and has expanded to 170 countries. Its mission is to awaken the world to the abilities and dignity of every human being.

Through athletic competition and physical training, the organization works to increase confidence, demonstrate courage and joy, and share friendship with adults and children with intellectual disabilities.

Competitors have the opportunity to join in on events including bocce ball, track and field, gymnastics, horseshoes, jumping events, and swimming. The winners of these events will move on to compete at the state Special Olympics championship.

The Special Olympics is an amazing event that has inspired many individuals with disabilities and transformed lives by teaching confidence.

“I’m excited to be a part of Special Olympics because I’m excited to get to know my athlete and their family and to be a part of such a fun and joyful day,” said Amanda Asfour, a freshman volunteering for the first time with Special Olympics.

“It’s a celebration of the athletes and all that they can do, rather than focusing on what they can’t. I just can’t wait to be a part of that!”

The Calvin-hosted Special Olympics event is the largest in the Southwest Michigan Region. Calvin’s involvement in the organization goes back over 10 years, with plans to continue the partnership in the future.

Nick Caudle of Special Olympics Michigan, is enthusiastic about this weekend’s festivities. “We love hosting the event at Calvin for a number of reasons; the beautiful facilities, the great campus and athletic department support, the support and coordination we receive from the Service Learning Center, and the many Calvin students who volunteer with us.”

Most of the events will be held in the Huizenga Track and Tennis Center and the outdoor track, but some events will be held in different locations depending on the event.

Calvin students can play an important role in the event by volunteering as a chaperone. 200 chaperones are needed for the day. Each chaperone is responsible for up to three athletes.

Student participants will help to make sure athletes arrive at their events on time, lead them through lunch, and walk in the parade of athletes in the opening ceremony, and are part of the closing ceremony at the end of the day.

With campus gearing up for the event this weekend, Caudle said, “I can’t tell you enough how much we enjoy the partnership with Calvin and look forward to coming back each year to work with everyone.”

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