Special Olympics Maine is celebrating the big 5-0!

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 12:15pm

The 50th annual Special Olympics Maine State Summer Games are fast approaching. Over 1,500 athletes, ages 8-88 have been training, planning, and now packing for this exciting event. They will represent nearly 120 teams from all across the state and will compete in a variety of Olympic-style sports at the University of Maine in Orono June 7-9.

Preceding the games until June 7, over 700 members of Maine Law Enforcement will be carrying the Olympic Torch, the Flame of Hope, across the entire state. These members of Law Enforcement will be trying to raise funds for and an awareness of Special Olympics Maine. The run began in Sanford on June 4 and will conclude on Friday, June 7 with a Final Leg entering in to the UMO campus late afternoon.

Competition will actually begin Thursday (June 6) at 9 a.m. with Bowling and Unified Bowling. (Unified events bring together athletes with intellectual disabilities and those without for an opportunity to compete together on the same team.) On Friday the excitement continues with more bowling, time trials, bocce competitions and relays.

Friday evening, June 7 always proves to be a fun-filled night with our annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg arriving around 4 p.m., an outside picnic for the athletes, our parade at 5, followed by our Opening Ceremonies at 6 and a movie outside right after Opening Ceremonies. On Saturday morning, track and field events begin at 8:30 and run until approximately 3:30. In addition to the competition athletes will be treated to an Olympic Village full of games and entertainment, race cars, Drums Alive, Wolf Pack Fitness training and more. 

Saturday night includes our annual Victory Dance in the field house. The theme for this years dance is 1969 in honor of our 50th anniversary and Under The Covers Band will be playing! (please note that the dance is a private function for the athletes, and coaches and is not open to the public). On Sunday morning the events conclude with Walk and Mile Run finals and closing ceremonies.

An added bonus for our athletes is the Healthy Athletes program. Special Olympics Maine athletes will have the opportunity to be seen and evaluated in free dental screenings, hearing evaluations and physical fitness this year. Special Smiles, has offered free screenings for the past seventeen years. Free fluoride treatments will also be available for them. Healthy Hearing and Fun Fitness are the other two disciplines also being offered.

The games conclude on Sunday morning with the walk races and mile run competition followed by closing ceremonies.

2019 is the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics Maine! The Special Olympic event was held in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, at Soldiers Field in Chicago. Mickey Boutilier, a special education teacher from Gorham, took a small group of athletes out to those games and then held the first Special Olympics in Maine the following year. In June of 1969 Mickey was one of only 12 states to host their own state wide Special Olympic event. This was during a time when only a couple years earlier people with intellectual disabilities were not even allowed to go to school, let alone participate in community events or sports. Boutilier faced a lot of rejection when looking for sponsors and support for the event and begged family members to come to cheer for the athletes. Today, our awards stands are surrounded by cheering fans and supporters and our athletes are offered top notch training and venues.

Happy Anniversary Special Olympics Maine and thank you to all of the amazing coaches, volunteers, sponsors, donors, family members, supporters and of course athletes who have helped to make our program what it is today!

Special Olympics is a year round athletic training and competition program for adults and children with intellectual disabilities of all ages. In Maine there are over 4,300 athletes who participate in the program. For more information on the Summer Games or Special Olympics, please call Lisa Bird at 879-0489 or on her cell at 839-5578 or email her at  lisab@somaine.org