Nearly 3,000 athletes from 170 teams from across Texas will converge in Arlington this weekend for the 2016 Special Olympics Texas Summer Games, presented by TD Ameritrade and the Knights of Columbus. While competition gets underway for some athletes early on Friday, the official start to the annual event, now in its 47th year, will not come until the Opening Ceremony takes places on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. at Maverick Stadium.
The ceremony will be co-emceed by Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye and Fort Worth-area SOTX athlete and Global Messenger Brittany Pace, while special guest Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby will declare the Games officially open. Javier Martinez, Supreme Director of the Knights of Columbus, will also be on-hand for the ceremony
All athletes will parade into the stadium with their teams and will be formally introduced to the crowd before the torch – Flame of Hope – is passed and the cauldron is lit, signifying the official start of the 2016 Summer Games.
The passing of the torch will consist of six segments. The Guardians of the Flame will be Texas Law Enforcement Torch Run officers and the torch bearers will be athletes from five Texas regions.
Delivering the torch to the stadium will be Macy Smith (Trophy Club). It will then be passed to Jared Villarreal (Corpus Christi) and Pernell Ross of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Torres Unit, who will both represent the South Region.
Nathan Derouen (San Antonio) and Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Robbie Barrera will carry for South-Central Region, as Michelle Martinez (El Paso) and Officer Ed Day from the Lubbock Police Department will represent the West Region.
John Allen Hooper (Wichita Falls) will be joined by Officer Christine Smith with the Dallas Police Department for the North Region before passing the torch to the East Region’s Marc Yarrish (Gilmer) and Officer Ruben Trevino from the Houston Police Department, who will carry for the final leg and light the cauldron.
Summer Games is SOTX’s largest annual statewide competition. Qualified competitors will participate in one of six sports: Athletics (track & field), Basketball, Cycling, Gymnastics, Soccer or Tennis during the weekend-long event, which runs from May 26-29. Athletes will be supported by nearly 400 coaches and 90 Unified partners (teammates without intellectual disabilities).
It will take more than 3,750 volunteers to run the four-day statewide competition. They will serve in numerous capacities, including: as officials, scorekeepers, athlete escorts, award presenters and administrative support services.
Volunteer opportunities are still available, especially for Track on Sunday morning (May 29) and at Tennis on Friday (May 27). To sign up for a shift, click here or contact Judy Yoshimaru at email@example.com. Fans in the Stands are also welcome to cheer on the athletes.
In addition to the Opening Ceremony, Summer Games weekend also features other special events including the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg and Press Conference and the Victory Dance. All events are free and open to the public.
For a complete schedule of events and all information regarding the 2016 Summer Games, visit www.sotx.org/summergames.
About Special Olympics Texas
Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) is a privately funded non-profit organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect. SOTX provides continuing opportunities for more than 55,200 children and adults with intellectual disabilities throughout the Lone Star State to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. To learn more, visitwww.specialolympicstexas.org or call 800.876.5646. Engage with us on: Twitter @SOTexas;fb.com/SpecialOlympicsTX; youtube.com/specialolympicstexas.