After six years, the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games are coming back to Columbia.
During a news conference Monday, Special Olympics Missouri CEO Susan Stegeman announced the return of the three-day sports competition scheduled for June 5-7 of 2020. Stegeman also said the games will remain in Columbia through 2023.
During the State Summer Games, more than 1700 athletes and coaches will come together to participate in volleyball, soccer, swimming, powerlifting and track and field competitions.
The competitions will include a combination of traditional games, team skills, individual skills and Unified Sports where athletes with and without intellectual disabilities compete together. The venue has not been determined, according to a news release from Special Olympics Missouri.
As a city that is devoted to inclusivity and accessibility, Mayor Brian Treece said this event is a “perfect fit” for Columbia and is proud to welcome back the games.
“Athletes of all ages find joy and confidence in playing, performing and competing right here in Columbia, Missouri,” Treece said Monday.
The games are expected to cost over $200,000 and will require 800 community volunteers. The Games Management Team, led by Zach Franklin of the Convention Visitors Bureau, and Jessica Sida of the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, will lead fundraising efforts.
The management team, consisting of representatives from law enforcement, local schools and community volunteers, will serve in various roles for the event. The team’s responsibilities will include planning the opening ceremony, securing a range of donations, planning health and wellness activities and helping with fundraising, Stegeman said.
Although the Special Olympics Missouri headquarters is in Jefferson City, the organization’s Chief Development and Marketing Officer Brian Neuner reminded the audience that the organization is statewide.
“This is a great chance for Columbia, for Boone County, for central Missouri to ... remind the state we’re a fantastic host,” Neuner said.
While many volunteers are needed for the games, both Stegman and Neuner vocalized how big of an impact the athletes have on those involved.
Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.