The Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games kick off today in Columbia.
The four-day event gathers more than 2500 athletes and coaches from around the state annually.
Special Olympics organizers say there are many ways for the community to get involved with the events. Trish Wallace is a parent and coach for the Special Olympics. She says even cheering from the stands can make a huge impact in a Special Olympics athlete’s experience.
“They become different people when there is people rooting for them and cheering them on and getting excited about what they can do,” she said, “and I would bet that most of the time they don’t even care if they win or lose because in their books and in their minds they always win.”
The athletes participating this year are Missouri’s Special Olympic “best of the best” according to organizers, and have earned their spot by competing in area, district and regional levels.
The Olympics holds competitions in six different sports categories.