Columbia already is host to the Senior Show-Me Games and the Show-Me State Games. Now it will feature the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games as well.
Naomi Cupp, board chairwoman of Special Olympics Missouri, announced Tuesday that MU will host the Special Olympics Summer Games for the next four years. Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Olympics will bring a
$4 million boost to the local economy.
“It is an opportunity to strengthen our program and reward the community for their exemplary support,” Cupp said.
Columbia was chosen for its exceptional hospitality, the tremendous support from businesses and volunteers and MU’s first-rate athletic facilities, Cupp said.
“In my mind, it is absolutely so right that MU be a partner in this excellent endeavor,” MU Chancellor Richard Wallace said.
Even more important than the economic benefits, Mayor Darwin Hindman said, being host to the Special Olympics “adds to the quality of our life here in Columbia by way of inspiration from these wonderful athletes.”
About 2,000 athletes and 500 coaches from across Missouri are expected to attend the 2004 State Summer Games from May 26-28. Events include track and field, aquatics, powerlifting, tennis, team handball and bocce.
Special Olympics Athlete Larry Stephens led the audience in the Special Olympics oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Dan Shipp, associate director of MU recreation services and facilities, said that 1,000 volunteers will be needed to help with the Games, including referees, first-aid workers and people to help set up.
The State Summer Games have been in Columbia the past two years.
A meningitis scare at Fort Leonard Wood in 2002 prompted a venue change that brought the State Summer Games to Columbia. The State Summer Games were held in Fort Leonard Wood for 26 years.
Another state game was added at Fort Leonard Wood last year, the Fall Classic.