May 24, 2015
By Steve Helm
The 46th Special Olympics Texas Summer Games, presented by TD Ameritrade and the Knights of Columbus, concluded on Sunday afternoon for nearly 3,000 athletes. Despite rain that fell for a majority of the weekend, this year’s Games were one of the most memorable. Through the storms, it was a joy to see everyone come together for one reason – our athletes. It was an all-hands-in effort from everyone there – volunteers, coaches and SOTX staff. Everyone who was involved this weekend was unified by the mission of carrying out the competitions as best as possible, while still giving the athletes a quality opportunity to compete.
Through delays and rescheduling events to avoid any disappointment to the athletes, we cannot thank you enough for your patience and for being proactive when the circumstances called for it.
Once all the Track events scheduled for Sunday were successfully squeezed into Saturday, the next hurdle was trying to assure that the Victory Dance, scheduled for Saturday night at Maverick Stadium, could still go on. With even heavier rain expected during the evening, many pondered how the dance could manage to go on.
The University of Texas at Arlington, who had already moved mountains to host the whole weekend of competition on their campus, rose to the occasion once more with their tremendous generosity. Once news came to UTA that the Victory Dance would not be able to go on at Maverick Stadium due to the forecasted rain, they immediately approached SOTX and expressed how they knew not having that event would be a travesty for the athletes, so cancelling it was not an option.
To make sure the Victory Dance would go on, UTA allowed SOTX to use the College Park Center free of charge. This state-of-the-art facility usually requires a multi-thousand dollar rental free, but UTA once again showed how important the athletes are to them by donating the usage of the arena to SOTX. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to the UTA staff on-site and all of the people that worked behind the scenes to create a high-quality competition for the athletes when Mother Nature presented challenges
Enough about the rain now. Let’s talk about the highlights of the competition.
The weekend kicked off with the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg. Officers from all over the state that began running from their city early last week, made their way to Arlington to parade into Maverick Stadium with the regional torches on Friday morning. Those torches were later carried in during the Opening Ceremony. Unique about this year’s cauldron lighting were two things: it was the first time that particular cauldron was used, as it was welded by GCISD’s Leslie Low. The other unique aspect of the cauldron lighting is the Flame of Hope was carried on one of the exclusive Unified Relay Across America torches, which anyone can get if they register a team and fundraise $1,500 for a segment of the once-in-lifetime opportunity coming to Texas from June 19-30.
Over the course of the three days of Games, we heard cheers and we saw smiles, high-fives and hugs as athletes made their dreams come true. As medals and ribbons were presented to the athletes for their success, resulting from their eight weeks of hard-work, training and dedication, everyone was inspired by the abilities of the athletes. That Special Olympics spirit was prominent all weekend long and felt by everyone. The photos and tweets that tagged SOTX on social media certainly did not hide those sentiments. [Check out photos and videos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter]
The Games came to a symbolic close on Saturday night at the Victory Dance when the Closing Ceremony was held. In conjunction with the special event, Rose Anthony, an Area 10 coach, was recognized for being named a finalist by Special Olympics North America for Coach of the Year.
All coaches, athletes and delegations have a special opportunity to be recognized at the brand new SOTX Chapter office, The Christi Stanley Building, by purchasing engraved bricks. More Information here.
We congratulate the nearly 3,000 athletes and their families for a wonderful and exciting 2015 Summer Games! We can’t wait to see you in Bryan/College Station in October for Fall Classic!