More than 3,000 athletes, coaches and family members will visit Guelph next week for the 2016 Ontario Special Olympics Spring Games.
The provincial Spring Games May 26-28 will welcome participants and coaches from across Ontario and involve more than 600 local volunteers.
The Special Olympics provide competitive opportunities for athletes ages eight and older — some competitors are more than 70 years old — with intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays or developmental disabilities.
Athletes, coaches and managers will stay in University of Guelph residences, and two Games events will take place on campus.
The opening ceremony will take place May 26, 7:30 p.m., at the Sleeman Centre in downtown Guelph.
Swimming and powerlifting events will take place on campus. Basketball, rhythmic gymnastics and bowling will be held at other locations in Guelph.
Guelph Police Services (GPS) is organizing the event along with the University of Guelph and the City of Guelph.
Among the athletes who will be competing is U of G staff member Taylor Redmond. He already has a gold medal from the 2008 Special Olympics provincial competition and a silver medal from the 2012 event. He’s hoping to add to his collection with another gold this year.
Redmond works works part-time at at the W.F. Mitchell Athletics Centre helping with the intramural programs. He also hosts a sports show for campus radio station CFRU on Wednesday afternoons called “Gryphons and Special Olympics Sports” with two of his basketball teammates.
Groups and businesses may help offset costs for athletes and help raise awareness through Special Olympics Ontario’s “Adopt an Athlete” initiative. Many schools and businesses have signed up to support an athlete, and individuals and families can also “adopt” athletes.
On Feb. 6, GPS hosted a “polar plunge” on Johnston Green to raise more than $30,000 for athletes.
“We are delighted to host several events for what will be the largest provincial spring games ever for the Special Olympics,” said Sue Bennett, U of G’s director of community relations.
“Our community is excited to support the dedicated athletes who will be competing and to continue the tradition of athletic quality at U of G,” Bennett said.
“The support shown for these athletes by the entire Guelph community demonstrates how community spirit and excellence are tightly linked together here.”