Special Olympics State Summer Games coming to Columbia next week

Thursday, May 24, 2012 | 7:16 p.m. CDT; updated 12:12 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 25, 2012

*The Special Olympics State Summer Games Missouri have been held in Springfield the past four years. A previous version of this article misidentified the city.

COLUMBIA — Volunteers are still needed to help when the Special Olympics State Summer Games Missouri return to Columbia next week.

"We need volunteers to help at track and field and bowling on Tuesday and Wednesday," Ben Stewart, public relations coordinator of Special Olympics Missouri, said. "Right now, we are only about 30 to 35 percent full at those events."

Opening ceremonies Tuesday

The torch for the State Summer Games 2012 will arrive at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Carnahan Quad at MU. Opening ceremonies begin there at 7:30 p.m. 

A full schedule can be found at

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The games will be held Tuesday through Friday throughout the city, including at MU and Columbia College. This year, Stewart said, they will involve about 1,950 athletes and 500 coaches.

In addition to track and field and bowling, featured games are aquatics, basketball, power lifting and volleyball.

The track and field event will be held at Walton Track at MU, and bowling will be held at Town and Country Lanes, 1508 N. Providence Roadd.

Overall, volunteers serve about 1,500 four-hour shifts during the annual games, Stewart said. 

"People are welcome to walk up and volunteer, but we like to have people register so we have an idea of how people we have," Stewart said. "We try to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved."

The games stay for four consecutive summers in each community, Stewart said. They were held in Springfield* for the past four years. 

This is the first time since 2007 that the games have been held in Columbia. The athletes and coaches, plus their family and friends, are expected to generate a lot of revenue for Columbia by shopping, eating and staying in the city, Megan McConachie of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. 

"It's an uplifting event that draws people and volunteers of all ages," McConachie said. 

Anyone interested in volunteering can visit the Special Olympics Missouri webpage, call 800-846-2682 or email to register.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey:; 882-2632

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