GJ will host Special Olympics once again

Special Olympics Colorado’s largest annual event, the Summer Games, got the reception it needed in Grand Junction last year to warrant bringing the games back to the Grand Valley.

And Colorado Mesa University relishes hosting the games again, so that brings us to today, when Special Olympics Colorado will announce at 11 a.m. at CMU’s Hamilton Recreation Center that Grand Junction will be the Summer Games’ host city for the second straight year.

Opening ceremonies will take place at 10 a.m. on, May 31, and competition will wrap up midday on June 1. All of the events are free and open to the public.

The decision to return to Grand Junction, which became the first Western Slope host of the Summer Games, was based on last year’s community support, the facilities and acceptable dates, said Amy Turner, Special Olympics Colorado’s vice president of marketing, communications and corporate sponsorships.

“Support of the community is important, and our athletes notice the number of people in the stands,” she said.

Colorado Mesa’s facilities are excellent, she added, and each of the five summer sports — track and field, soccer, swimming, gymnastics and power lifting — are within walking distance of each other.

“I anticipate there’s going to be a lot of cheers and high-fives around the state (today),” Turner said Saturday.

Mindy Watrous, Special Olympics Colorado’s president and CEO, will be on hand for today’s announcement.

“Our first year with Special Olympics Summer Games in Grand Junction was overwhelmingly positive, from competitions in the state’s finest facilities to the response from the Grand Junction community,” Watrous said in a news release.

Colorado Mesa President Tim Foster said the city’s support of the games a year ago was gratifying. He said one concern last year was getting the number of volunteers, about 500, needed. It was an unwarranted worry.

“We had more volunteers than we had jobs for them to do,” Foster said in a news release. “I know we were hoping for a return engagement this year, and I think a lot of folks in the community shared our hope.”

More than 1,200 athletes participated in the Summer Games last year, and Turner expects that number to increase this year. Travel wasn’t a deterrent, and positive reviews about Grand Junction spread around the Front Range, she said.

Special Olympics Colorado also hopes to increase its sponsors this year from 18 a year ago. Sponsorships begin at $1,000.


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