Southfield (CW50) – For more than 50 years, Special Olympics Michigan has provided year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Michigan has participated in the nationwide organization since the first International Summer Games in 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Since then, Special Olympics Michigan has held in person events for Winter, Summer, and Fall sports. 

Special Olympic athletes receiving their medals at the 2019 State Summer Special Olympic Games

These athletes achieve their dreams with the support of caring volunteers, coaches, family members and staff who have dedicated their time to helping them show courage and experience joy through sports they love. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are at the heart of Special Olympics Michigan. The organization looks to create a world where everyone belongs. 

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Community Connect Host Lisa Germani, with Tim Hileman, President and CEO of Special Olympics Michigan

Tim Hileman, President and CEO of Special Olympics Michigan, joins Lisa Germani on Community Connect to talk about the return of the State Summer Games and how the organization is continuing its mission of inclusivity for all.

“Anytime you go to a Special Olympics event, you feel the energy. It’s like no other place.. no other event you’re a part of. Its pure joy, its laughter, its enthusiasm.”

In 2020, the State Summer Games has to go virtual, with all events taking place remotely by athletes. With the return to some in-person events that took place on July 16th and 17th this year, Special Olympics Michigan has taken a step toward returning fully to what the games used to be.

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Volleyball match at the 2019 State Summer Special Olympic Games

The July 16th day featured an athletics event in Mt. Pleasant serving as a qualifier for the 2022 USA Games. Virtual athletics, fitness, gymnastics, and developmental athletics events will also be offered. Whereas the July 17 event featured bocce in Mt. Pleasant and Grand Rapids.  

On July 28th, it was announced that the Special Olympics Unified Cup 2022 presented by Toyota will take place in Detroit, Michigan, USA from 31 July – 6 August 2022. The 2022 Unified Cup will host as many as 32 men’s and women’s football (soccer) teams—nearly 600 athletes with and without intellectual disabilities—from up to 31 nations.

Hileman added, “We are honored to bring one of the most inclusive sporting events in the world to our great state and to the city of Detroit. It will be a tremendous week of competition as we celebrate and promote a message of inclusion.”

Learn more at SOMI.org

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Watch Community Connect, Saturday at 7am on CW50