STILLWATER — The 2014 Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games started Wednesday and will continue through Friday afternoon with basketball, bowling, softball, bocce, track and field, golf and other competitions and events.
The opening ceremonies were held at Gallagher-Iba Arena after Wednesday’s competitions.
The competitions continue Thursday and Friday.
“We feel really supported by the entire Stillwater community,” said Donna Ham, the marketing and communications director at Special Olympics Oklahoma.
Ham estimates 10,000 people — about 4,600 athletes and thousands of volunteers and guests — will travel to Stillwater over three days to attend the 45th annual summer games. This is the 31st year the summer games has been centered at Oklahoma State University.
In order to compete in the Special Olympics, athletes must be 8 years old or older. Ham has seen athletes still competing in their 80s.
Ham said she enjoys introducing younger children between the ages of 3 and 7 and their families to being a part of the Special Olympics community.
“They compete in events geared for their age to get a feel for what Special Olympics is all about,” Ham said.
When these “Stars of the Future” turn 8, they will have a better idea of what sports they’ll want to pursue, she said.
The event for the young athletes is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday just north of Boone Pickens Stadium across W Hall of Fame Ave.
Ham has been involved with Special Olympics Oklahoma for 11 years.
“It’s been one of the most rewarding ...” she paused, not wanting to label her position as a job. “It’s not a job. I can’t call it a job. It’s just one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.”
AT A GLANCE
Oklahoma Special Olympics
Competitions will take place on and off Oklahoma State University’s campus throughout the day Thursday and will conclude Friday afternoon.
Most events begin between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Thursday and Friday.
For a full schedule and an event map of the 2014 Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games, go to sook.org.