Special Olympics coming to Grand Junction

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel—Caroline Shurden, right, never stopped grinning as she competed in the 100-meter dash during the School District 51 Special Olympics meet this week at Stocker Stadium. About 1,200 people are expected to compete in the Colorado Special Olympics Summer Games on June 1-2 at Colorado Mesa University, Stocker Stadium and Lincoln Park Moyer Pool.

The Flame of Hope for Colorado Special Olympians will flicker across western Colorado on Saturday as the torch that precedes the 2013 Summer Games arrives in Grand Junction.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run will escort the flame from the Pepsi Center in Denver to the Aspen Valley Harley Davidson store in Glenwood Springs, then travel to the Grand Junction Harley Davidson, 2747 Crossroads Blvd., arriving about 4 p.m. Saturday.

Arrival of the flame sets the stage for the June 1-2 Summer Games at Colorado Mesa University, an event that will attract about 1,200 Special Olympians from across the state, along with families, friends and volunteers.

The games “starts the summer off with a bang,” said Barbara Bowman, manager of the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau. “We’re really looking forward to having them.”

The event offers the opportunity to the athletes from the Front Range and other parts of the state to visit Grand Junction, while also making it possible for Western Slope athletes to participate in the games, many for the first time, said Mindy Watrous, president and CEO of Special Olympics Colorado.

Grand Junction “has been so incredibly open and warm,” Watrous said.

The summer games were moved to Colorado Mesa University at the suggestion of Charles Monfort, a former CMU trustee who recognized that the university and surrounding community offered the opportunity for the games to be conducted in a single location, Watrous said.

All events will be conducted on the campus or at nearby Lincoln Park Moyer Pool and Stocker Stadium.

Athletes will be housed on campus in an Olympic Town.

The VCB is anticipating the Games will account for about 200 room-nights in Grand Junction, Bowman said.

The games will feature open and closing ceremonies and events in track and field, soccer, powerlifting, aquatics and gymnastics. Competitors will be as young as 7 and will include middle- and high-school students and adults.

All events will be open to the public.

“It’s a great event for family and spectators,” Watrous said.

Sponsors of the event include the Monfort Family Foundation with support from Colorado Mesa University, Apera, The Colorado Trust, Comfort Dental, Law Enforcement Torch Run, Safeway, the city of Grand Junction, Hilltop Community Resources, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Strive and The Daily Sentinel.

Competitions will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 1 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 2.

A detailed schedule of events will be posted at SpecialOlympicsCO.org.


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