Michigan athletes compete at Special Olympics

The World Cup has been underway for several days now, but another important sporting event began this weekend.

The Special Olympics held their opening ceremony Saturday in New Jersey.  Competitors from all over the country headed to The College of New Jersey for the event, including 50 athletes and 15 coaches from Michigan.

Athletes were able to arrive in style, thanks to Cessna’s Citation Special Olympics Airlift, which has been taking contestants to and from the games since 1987.  Citation owners and operators from all over the country came together to help get the event off the ground.

My favorite part is when that door opens and the first athlete walks off and you see their faces and that’s the definition of joy, in my opinion,” Rhonda Fullerton, from Cessna’s Citation Special Olympics airlift, said.  “And you realize that all the work, all the sleepless nights, everything that’s gone on was worth that moment in time. And it doesn’t happen just once, it happens every time that door opens.”

It takes a lot of manpower to make the Special Olympics happen.  One thousand coaches and 10,000 volunteers work together to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Nearly 3,500 athletes will be involved in the games and will compete in 16 different team and individual sports.  Competitors from Michigan will participate in events including track and field, bowling, soccer, golf and powerlifting.

The hope is that, through these athletic events, everyone involved can promote the idea of acceptance and inclusion.

“So when you land and the world’s there with cameras and red carpet and cheerleaders and so many volunteers saying we’re so excited you’re here and we’re really excited to cheer for you and to be with you and to support you it just changes your world it rocks your world and it changes how you see yourself and how you know other people are seeing you,” Special Olympics CEO Janet Froetscher.

The Special Olympics are a week long, and will end with a closing ceremony this Friday.