Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games grew while at Eastview

Next year’s games to be held at St. Thomas University

For the past two years, Special Olympics Minnesota has run its Summer Games at Eastview High School in Apple Valley.

During that time, attendance at the event has grown so much that it has led to the organization to need a larger facility.

Next year, the Summer Games will be held at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, where it can stage more sports and competitions along with giving the event a bigger feel, according to organizers.

“We have loved holding our Summer Games at Eastview for the past two years, but the expansion of our games called for the need for a larger event facility,” said Taylor Dale, marketing manager for Special Olympics Minnesota.

This year’s Summer Games held June 22-24 hosted more than 1,700 Special Olympics Minnesota athletes, 100 Unified Partners (Unified Sports mix athletes with and without disabilities on the same team) and 620 coaches.

More than 1,110 volunteers and spectators attended the games.

Dale said the organization has had great feedback on the Eastview location.

“Holding our Summer Games in Apple Valley at Eastview High School has been wonderful,” she said. “Eastview High School and surrounding community spaces have ample parking available, the facilities at the high school are of superior quality and there has been an enormous amount of support from local community members.”

Special Olympics Minnesota’s Summer Games includes track and field events along with swimming, basketball and volleyball.

In addition to the venue change for the Summer Games in 2018, the organization has made other changes for the coming year.

Special Olympics Minnesota currently has 8,000 athletes, 3,500 coaches, 250 delegations and 13 area programs.

The nonprofit’s officials said there has been a growth in traditional athlete numbers, increasing over 30 percent, and the organization has added approximately 50 new traditional delegations and almost 40 school delegations.

Area competition participation is up 67 percent from 2007, and state participation for the same time comes in at just under 50 percent, according to Special Olympics Minnesota.

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Throughout the state, the organization offers sports training and competition in alpine skiing, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, flag football, golf, gymnastics, poly hockey, powerlifting, snowboarding, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field and volleyball.

More information is at http://specialolympicsminnesota.org.

Contact Tad Johnson at [email protected] or at twitter.com/editorTJ.