The fall season of Special Olympics resumes in Oregon this year, after five years of cancellation.
When the recession hit in 2008, the Special Olympics was cut at the end of the year in Oregon due to lack of funding. The program has slowly recovered along with the economy, and in 2011 the summer games and winter games resumed.
The purpose of Special Olympics Oregon is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participants have the opportunity to develop their physical fitness while building friendships, enjoying the thrill of competition, and maximizing their potential.
During the absence of the games, many athletes continued to train and compete in a local setting.
Both regional and state games are held through the months of October and November (see full schedule). Sports events include aquatics, bowling, soccer, and volleyball.
This weekend, November 15 and 16, all state tournament events will take place. Soccer will take place at Providence Park and Lincoln High School, aquatics at THPRD Howard M. Terpanning Aquatics Center, and volleyball at Lincoln High School. There will also be an opening game ceremony at Providence Park on Saturday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
All participants train in their hometowns for several weeks prior to competing in both regional and state competitions.
Despite the traditional Olympic style games taking place only during the summer and winter seasons, funding from Providence Park and the Portland Timbers created the opportunity for athletes to continue competing even in the fall off-season.
“Not all of our athletes play in every season, but it gives them an opportunity to do so. We want to have those opportunities for them to be involved and active as much as possible,” said David Warner, marketing and communications director for Special Olympics Oregon.
The continuation of the fall games allows participants to further their athletic abilities and provides them the opportunity to potentially compete at a national level in the summer or winter.
“One of the fantastic things our athletes eat up and love is the support from our community,” Warner said. By keeping the games free and open to the public, Special Olympics Oregon builds a sense of support and community for the athletes. “It’s a real competition and they’re happy to be there and they enjoy the support.”