Special Olympics Tennessee To Host First State Summer Games Since 2019

Photo: Courtesy of Special Olympics Tennessee

Special Olympics Tennessee (SOTN) will host its annual State Summer Games this weekend (May 20-21) at Lipscomb University for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The games will be played at the Lipscomb Academy and Centennial Sportsplex, and will feature six different Special Olympics sports with more than 600 athletes from across the state participating.

“We’re so excited to be back for the first time in three years,” says Sean Stake, VP of Sports for Special Olympics Tennessee. “Our athletes, coaches, volunteers and sponsors are thrilled to finally be back. The athletes have waited a long time and have worked hard to show off their skills to compete against their peers at this year’s games.”

Photo: Courtesy of Special Olympics Tennessee

Opening ceremonies for the State Summer Games will take place tonight (May 20) from 6:45-8:45 p.m. at Allen Arena on the Lipscomb University campus. The event will feature a processional of participating athletes, awards and an encouragement speech from Super Bowl champion quarterback Trent Dilfer.

During the event, athletes will be competing in bocce, powerlifting, swimming, tennis, track and volleyball. Competitions will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (May 21).

A full schedule can be viewed on the Special Olympics Tennessee website.

“Opening Eyes, Healthy Hearing and health promotion Healthy Athlete events are an opportunity for our athletes to receive much-needed health screenings and education,” says Dr. Natalee Kamau, SOTN’s Manager of Health and Fitness. “These opportunities allow for us to assess needs in the areas of vision, hearing and general fitness and nutrition so that our athletes can participate at their highest level. We believe our athletes can achieve great things when given the right tools.”

To kick off the event, law enforcement agencies from across the state will take part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. This includes Metro Nashville Police Department, Brentwood Police Department, Knoxville Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sevier County Search & Rescue, and more. Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into Opening Ceremonies of competitions.

Throughout the event, SOTN athletes will also take part in Healthy Athletes screenings. Opening Eyes will offer free vision screening and Healthy Hearing will free provide screening for ears. There will also be fitness and nutrition booths to help educate athletes on healthy food and drink choices.

Registration is also open for Young Athletes, a program for children ages 3 to 10 with and without disabilities. More information can be found on the SOTN website.

Steven Boero