Five things to know about Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games

This year marks the fifth anniversary of partnership with the University of Missouri.

Special Olympics participants light the torch
Participants light the Special Olympics torch during opening ceremonies on the University of Missouri campus in 2023.

May 28, 2024

Contact: Janese Heavin,
Photo by Abbie Lankitus

Athletes from across the state will showcase their talents at the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games in Columbia this week, including competitions and special programming at the University of Missouri.

Prepare to celebrate the accomplishments, determination and sportsmanship of this year’s competitors with these five things to know.

1. The Games will run May 31 through June 2.
This year’s State Summer Games begin on Friday, May 31, with an opening ceremony set for 7 p.m. at MizzouRec’s Brewer Fieldhouse. Following competitions on Saturday, June 1, participants will enjoy dance and bingo there. The Games will wrap up on Sunday, June 2.

2. It’s a special year for a special partnership.
This year’s event marks the fifth anniversary of the partnership between Special Olympics Missouri, Mizzou, MU Health Care and the University of Missouri System. The relationship has proved to be mutually beneficial, providing Mizzou students, faculty and staff opportunities to volunteer and get involved while enabling Special Olympics Missouri to leverage campus resources such as health and wellness experts and dining and residence halls for athletes and families.

3. Athletes will compete in four sports.
The Summer Games feature four sports: swimming and volleyball, which will be held at MizzouRec, and powerlifting and track and field, which will be held at Battle High School.  Athletes qualify for the State Summer Games through regional area competitions.

4. More than 1,000 people will participate.
In each of the past two years, the Games have brought more than 1,000 athletes, coaches, guests and volunteers to Columbia. A similar crowd is expected this year.

5. There’s still time to volunteer.
Volunteers play a crucial role in the success of the Games, helping with timing, staging activities, cheering on the athletes and escorting award recipients. Last year, more than 220 volunteers helped make the Games a success. There are still slots available to volunteer for the 2024 Special Olympics Missouri State Games.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the opening ceremonies have been moved to Brewer Fieldhouse due to weather concerns.

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