By Lisa Bird, Special Olympics Maine, in the Boothbay Register May 31, 2015.
The 47th 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 approximately 125 teams from Kittery to Presque Isle and will compete in a variety of Olympic Style sports at the University of Maine in Orono June 5-7.
The week prior to the games, June 2-5, nearly 600 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 will begin in Berwick on Tuesday, June 2 and will conclude on Friday with a Final Leg entering the UMO campus late afternoon.
Competition will actually begin on Thursday (June 4) 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 5 always proves to be a fun-filled night with our annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg arriving around 4:30 p.m., an outside picnic for the athletes, our parade at 6 p.m., followed by our Opening Ceremonies at 7 p.m.
On Saturday morning Track and Field events begin at 8:30 a.m. and run until approximately 3:30 p.m. In addition to the competition, athletes will be treated to an Olympic Village full of games and entertainment, as well as Unified Volleyball. Saturday night includes our annual Victory Dance in the field house. The theme for this year’s dance is Disco Dance Party; our athletes will be getting their groove on to the music of Motor Booty Affair (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, and hearing screenings. Special Smiles, under the direction of Dr. Scott Trowbridge, has offered free screenings for the past 14 years. Healthy Hearing, under the direction of Amy Booth from the Hearing Institute at UMO will offer free hearing screenings. Each of these directors have attended a National Special Olympics Directors Training in order to become certified Directors of the Healthy Athletes program.