COLUMBIA — Missouri wrestler J’den Cox will sing the national anthem. Missouri football players Evan Boehm and Kentrell Brothers, women’s basketball player Morgan Eye, and softball player Taylor Gadbois will give motivational speeches and sign autographs.
Athletes and their families from all over the state will participate in a parade and celebration for the start of the 2014 Show-Me State Games, which will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at different venues throughout Columbia. Events will continue July 25-27.
The opening ceremony for the games will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Mizzou Arena. It is free and open to the public.
“The ceremony is a neat experience for kids,” said Emily Lorenz, marketing coordinator of the Show-Me State Games. “There will be hundreds of kids walking in a parade with their teams like they are in the Olympics with the crowd cheering them on.”
Participants who want to be a part of the parade should arrive to Mizzou Arena at 6:30 p.m. to get lined up, Lorenz said.
One aspect of the event that has expanded for this year, Lorenz said, is the Shelter Insurance Torch Run to raise awareness about the games.
Lorenz said the torch run was presented in April in Missouri cities including Springfield, Joplin, Hannibal, St. Louis and St. Charles. In each city, she said, the torch was carried a mile or so, and the fanfare ended with the lighting of a cauldron, just as it does during the actual Olympic Ceremony.
On Friday, the torch will be in Jefferson City around noon before coming back to Columbia at 3:30 p.m. The torch will then be carried from Shelter Insurance’s headquarters in Columbia to Mizzou Arena, where the cauldron will be lit.
Cox, who won the 2014 wrestling NCAA National Championship at 197 pounds as a freshman at Missouri, was asked by Show-Me State Games officials to sing the national anthem, Lorenz said. Cox has sung the national anthem at multiple Missouri sporting events, including a softball game last year.
It is the 30th anniversary of the games, an Olympic-style sports festival that promotes health and fitness and showcases more than 40different sports.
“Since I started working here six years ago, the games have been consistent year in and year out,” Lorenz said. “It is exciting to celebrate 30 years.”
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