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Special Olympics Louisiana returns to campus

By Jonathan Rhodes
On May 18, 2017

The Flame of Hope is carried from parrish to parrish by law enforcement to start off the State Sumer Games.
Courtesy of Casey Minton

The Special Olympics of Louisiana is holding the State Summer Games in Hammond on campus with over 800 athletes from cities around Louisiana competing.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run, a 1,000-mile relay, started on May 12 and the last leg of the relay will kick off the State Summer Games beginning on May 19 at 7:30 p.m.

“Each summer, law enforcement officials carry the ‘Flame of Hope’ across the state culminating with the Torch Run Final Leg, and the lighting of the cauldron to officially open the Special Olympics Louisiana Summer Games in Hammond,” said Director of Communications and Marketing for Special Olympics Louisiana Casey Minton. “This torch relay involves more than 1,500 law enforcement officers and personnel representing more than 200 law enforcement agencies across Louisiana. LETR unites officers from law enforcement agencies and corrections departments across the state in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Louisiana. Torch Run efforts to raise funds include collecting corporate sponsorships, selling t-shirts, running and hosting unique fundraising events.”

Prior to the start of the games, there will be an open ceremony that includes a parade of the athletes and the arrival of the “Flame of Hope” in Strawberry Stadium. On the second day of the games, the athletes will compete in track and field sports, volleyball, powerlifting, mini javelin and bocce ball. These events will happen on Saturday at the track and field complex, the Pennington and between the Cate Teacher Education Center Building and Livingston Hall from 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

On the final day the of the games, the athletics and bocce will resume along with power lifting at Spoga Fitness Center at 7:30 a.m.

New Orleans Saints tight end Michael Hoomanawanui will serve as an honorary coach and Michael Bopp of the Louisiana River Pilots’ Association will serve as grand marshall. New Orleans Pelicans mascot Pierre T. Pelican will also be present.

The Special Olympics got started around the early 60s because of the compassion Eunice Kennedy Shriver had for disabled children. Shriver was a driving force for President John F. Kennedy’s White House panel on people with intellectual disabilities and was the director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation.

“Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated,” said Minton. “She also saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t even have a place to play. She decided to take action. Soon, her vision began to take shape as she held a summer day camp for young people with intellectual disabilities in her own backyard. The goal was to learn what these children could do in sports and other activities and not dwell on what they could not do. Her vision and drive for justice eventually grew into the Special Olympics movement.”

The State Summer Games is open to the public. The full schedule of events can be found on the Special Olympics website www.laso.org. 

        

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