TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Each year Indiana State University hosts championship events at the conference and national level but every summer the school hosts one of its biggest and most important events -- The Special Olympics Indiana. With over 2,500 athletes, 1,100 coaches and chaperones, 1,200 event volunteers and over 3,000 spectators and families, nearly 8,000 visitors descended on campus June 7-9 and Sycamore student-athletes played a huge role in both the success of the event as well as the experience of the participants.
Indiana State University has hosted Special Olympics Indiana every year since 1969 and in 2013, Sycamore student-athletes were right there once again making a difference in the lives of our guests as some of the state's most talented athletes showed off their skills around campus.
Special Olympics Indiana is a not-for-profit organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, reaching more than 11,000 athletes across Indiana. Special Olympics Indiana is part of the international network of accredited Special Olympics Programs that reaches nearly 4 million athletes with intellectual disabilities worldwide.
Sycamore student-athletes worked tirelessly during the event by serving as event volunteers and participating in the Opening Ceremonies on June 7 inside Hulman Center. Tammy Shaffer, who is the head coach of the Sycamore Sprit Squad and coordinates the community services activities for Sycamore Athletics, assembled with the help of all Indiana State head coaches and administrative staff an impressive group to participate in the all of the activities.
Throughout the weekend members of the Sycamore Football Team as well as the strength and conditioning staff hosted the weightlifting competition in the Sycamore Strength & Conditioning Center. Sycamore volunteers served as spotters and encouragers for the participants, including Head Strength And Conditioning Coach Dave McMannus who took time from his busy summer of training Sycamore student-athletes to help train and encourage the Special Olympics participants. Members of the strength and conditioning staff and football staff also assisted as spotters, checked in participants and handled public address duties in the weight room.
Nearly every student-athlete that is a member of the Indiana State football, men's basketball, women's basketball, volleyball, track and field and spirit squad programs participated in the Opening Ceremonies inside Hulman Center. Team members along with administrators, athletic trainers and members of the coaching staff assembled the large "high-five" line which greeted each of the visitors into the Opening Ceremonies and served as motivators to the assembled crowd. The Sparkettes performed during the ceremony and even got some of the Special Olympics participants into the action on the floor.
"Participating in the Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies is something that I will never forget," Jake Odum, a senior member of the Indiana State Basketball Team said. "The Special Olympics is the highlight of the year for all of the participants and their families and it was really special for all us to be able to share the weekend with them. I can't wait to be a part of this event again in the future."
The Sycamore student-athletes were joined in the action by Jared Fogel, made famous as a national spokesman for Subway, who delivered a key note address during the Opening Ceremonies. Fogel is a native of Indianapolis.
In addition to the weight room competitions and the Opening Ceremonies, Marks Field, the home of the Sycamore track and field program, was the site for most of the running and field events over the weekend. Many student-athlete volunteers, along with others from the Indiana State University community, cheered on the participants throughout the weekend and helped with the organizational duties of the event. The Indiana State indoor track facility (the North Gym) as well as the Student Recreation Center hosted other events including the swimming competition.
Indiana State is proud to be the birthplace of Special Olympics in the state of Indiana.
From a gathering of a few dozen individuals at Indiana State on June 6, 1969, Special Olympics Indiana has grown to more than 10,000 athletes and 7,000 volunteers statewide. Indiana has played an integral role in the history of the organization, hosting the Summer Games 41 out of 43 years and hosting the organization’s Men’s State Basketball Tournament since 1971.
In addition to hosting the Men’s Basketball Tournament and Summer Games, Indiana State is one of 10 sites for Polar Plunge, an annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Indiana that takes place during the month of February. The Terre Haute Plunge takes place in conjunction with Sycamore Hoopla on the patio of Hulman Center. The 2013 Terre Haute Plunge drew a record number of 150 people who braved the 22-degree weather to dive into our pool, raising a record $19,345.10!