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Special Olympics: Tennessee State Summer Games Begin Friday, Titans' Vrabel to Speak

Over 800 athletes and Unified Partners from across Tennessee set to participate this weekend in Nashville (Photo: Submitted)

NASHVILLE, TN (May 17, 2023) – Special Olympics Tennessee’s (SOTN) State Summer Games presented by Rockit™apples returns this week at Lipscomb University, Lipscomb Academy and Williamson County Indoor Sports Complex. The games will feature six different Special Olympics sports with more than 800 athletes and Unified Partners from across the state participating.

Opening Ceremonies for State Summer Games will take place Friday, May 19 from 6:45 to 8:30 PM at Allen Arena on the Lipscomb University campus. The event will feature a processional of participating athletes, Athlete and Coach of the Year Awards and an encouragement speech from Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. The entire community is encouraged to attend this free event to cheer on Special Olympics Tennessee athletes.

During competition on May 20, athletes will compete in Bocce, Powerlifting, Aquatics, Tennis, Track & Field and Volleyball. Competitions will begin at 8:00 AM. Click here for a full schedule.

“We’re thrilled to be back to our pre-pandemic numbers of athletes competing,” said Cate Simon, Director of Competitions for Special Olympics Tennessee. “Having more of our athletes compete from across the state means a better competition and more inclusion of people in our community. With Titans head coach Mike Vrabel speaking to pump up our athletes, they’ll easily be ready to compete and set new personal records.”

Thanks to a partnership with Lipscomb University and Academy, Special Olympics Tennessee athletes will be competing at athletic facilities throughout the campus.

To kick off the event, law enforcement agencies from across the state will take part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The run will begin at 1st Avenue and Broadway in downtown Nashville at 3:00 PM. The run will then make its way to the Lipscomb University campus at 4:30 PM. Participating departments include Metro Nashville Police Department, Brentwood Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police Department, Memphis Police Department, Tennessee Department of Correction, Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, TVA Inspector General’s Office, Manchester Police Department, Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office, Vanderbilt Campus Police and many 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 at our Health Village presented by Lifepoint Health. Opening Eyes will offer free vision screening and Healthy Hearing will free provide screening for ears. Special Smiles offers free dental screenings and instructions on correct brushing and flossing techniques. There will also be fitness and nutrition booths to help educate athletes on healthy food and drink choices through Health Promotion.

“Opening Eyes, Healthy Hearing, Special Smiles and Health Promotion Healthy Athlete events are an opportunity for our athletes to receive much needed health screenings and education,” said Dr. Natalee Kamau, SOTN’s Director of Health and Fitness. “These opportunities allow for us to assess needs in the areas of vision, hearing, oral and general fitness and nutrition so that our athletes can participate at their highest level.”

Throughout the weekend, SOTN athletes will also be treated to group dinners, a victory celebration after the events and much more.

The public is encouraged to attend any of the events to cheer on athletes as they compete. Schedules and venues can be found here.

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

Volunteer opportunities are also available for members of the community to support Summer Games. These opportunities include setup, check-in, monitoring competitions, meal distribution and more. Click here to volunteer.


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