I had the pleasure of attending the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games this weekend. Towson University was the host of this year’s event and its campus was surrounded with athletes, coaches, families and volunteers from across the state. Opening ceremony launched on Friday, June 8 along with the traditional torch run and a block party to celebrate the start of games. Saturday began the official day of competition (excluding the cheerleading competition that took place Friday) with the kickoff of each sports event. The other summer games were composed of sporting competitions that included aquatics, track and field, bocce, and softball. Since majority of the athletes play more than one sport, the competitions continued well into Sunday.
Due to Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium finishing up field renovations, the track and field portion of the games were held at Coppin State University. Cockeysville Middle School also hosted a few softball games for the Special Olympics. Approximately 1,400 athletes, 200 unified partners, 375 coaches and 400 volunteers were all the ingredients to a successful weekend for the summer games. The forecast was sunshine from the start of the games to closing ceremonies on Sunday. It was a great atmosphere for athletes to compete and hear their coaches, families and volunteers cheer them on. Every participant received some type of acknowledgement for competing during the games, and the top winners in each category had the chance to mount an Olympic style podium as they received their medals. All the while Olympic inspired music played in the background.
From a spectator and volunteer perspective, I had an opportunity to meet and work beside local Baltimore county community members. Local college students, law enforcement, stay-at-home moms and retirees were just some of the people I got to chat with while serving my community this weekend. I could tell everyone’s presence was genuine, regardless if they personally knew an athlete or not. Being able to watch or administer a game for Special Olympics Maryland was more than rewarding. And after hearing stories of volunteers who have been attending these games for decades, I understand why this event is added to their calendars every year.