Special Olympics Spring Games held at Roos Field

By Karolyn Wambold, Reporter

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EWU hosted the Special Olympics Washington East Region Spring Games on Saturday, May 4. The games were held at Roos Field and included track and field, powerlifting and swimming.

The Special Olympics started off as a summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities. Eunice Kennedy Shriver formed this camp in 1968 to give those with intellectual disabilities the chance to compete and the opportunity to grow. The very first Special Olympics was in 1968 in Chicago and had 1,000 competitors.

The Special Olympics has come a long way since 1968, with programs in over 170 countries.

“It’s huge now. There is somewhere close to 5 million people in the whole world that have intellectual disabilities that participate at the Special Olympics,” Special Olympics volunteer Earl Overly said. “Competitions range between track and field, swimming, basketball, cycling.”

According to the Special Olympics website, it all began in the 1950s and 1960s when the creator, Shriver, saw how unjust and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were being treated. She saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t have a place to play, so she took action in making Camp Shriver.

There is somewhere close to 5 million people in the whole world that have intellectual disabilities that participate at the Special Olympics”

— Earl Overly, volunteer

“Here (at EWU) we have competitions that eventually lead to a state competition each year in late May, which is in Fort Lewis, Washington, and then from there is a national Special Olympics competition,” Overly said.

There were teams from all over the east side of Washington. The competitions at EWU act as qualifiers for the State Games. Those who won gold in any track and field events move on to the state competition and those who won gold and silver at the swimming, powerlifting and soccer also go to the state competition.

According to Overly, the regional Special Olympics used to be at the Spokane Community College campus, but once there were more teams, EWU ended up becoming the home of the regional tournament on the east side of Washington state.

Fans and competitors cheered everyone on throughout the event, and many of the athletes left with medals in hand. Those who qualified will move on to the State Games in Fort Lewis, Washington. 


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