Families, volunteers and spectators will be cheering on men and women, boys and girls – all Special Olympics athletes - as they compete in the largest Area event of the year for Special Olympics Illinois Area 1.  The annual Spring Games takes place on May 2, 2015 at Harlem High School in Rockford. The public is invited to watch the competition and experience the joy of achievement by Special Olympics athletes.  Area 1 is composed of athletes from Boone, Stephenson, Carroll, De Kalb, Whiteside, Winnebago, Jo Daviess, Lee and Ogle Counties.

At the Area 1 Spring Games, over 550 athletes are expected to compete in athletics (track & field), the most popular of 19 sports offered by Special Olympics Illinois.  The event begins at 9:00 a.m. with an Opening Ceremony.  Competition will conclude around 4:00 p.m. All athletes will march in the parade of athletes and will recite the Special Olympics oath:  “Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”  The running of the torch with the “Flame of Hope” and the lighting of the cauldron signifies the opening of the games.

Athletes will compete in the 50-, 100-, 200-, 400-, 800- & 1500-Meter Runs, Standing & Running Long Jumps, Shot Put, Tennis & Softball Throw, High Jump, 400- Meter, 800-Meter, & 2K Walk Races, Wheelchair Competitions and Assisted Races.  Athletes compete in divisions by gender and ability levels.

Sponsors for the Special Olympics Illinois Area 1 Spring Games are the Rockford Park District, The Blazer Foundation, Northern Illinois Parrot Heads and Alpine Kiwanis.

To compete in the Special Olympics Illinois Area Spring Games, athletes must train for eight weeks. Athletes who win a gold medal at these Area games qualify to compete in the Special Olympics Illinois State Summer Games to be held June 12-14 on the campuses of Illinois State University in Normal and Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. More than 3,700 athletes from around the state are expected to compete in Summer Games.

Special Olympics Area Director Debbie Kelly says the Spring Games could not go on without generous volunteer support:  “We rely on volunteers to help run every aspect of Spring Games.  But even more importantly, the athletes look forward to the friendship and encouragement they receive from the volunteers.”

 

The Law Enforcement Torch Run, Illinois Knights of Columbus and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois are Official Partners of Special Olympics Illinois.

Knights of Columbus statewide are Gold Medal Sponsors for the 10th consecutive year with their collective support over the last decade of this sponsorship reaching the $1 million mark.