When Katrina Shaklee was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it opened her eyes to a whole new world.
At the time, Shaklee was employed by the Sooner State Games. Her diagnosis started her thinking about a similar athletic contest for people with physical disabilities.
“I was going to meetings with people with MS and seeing people in wheelchairs and things like that,” Shaklee said. “It got me to thinking.”
That was the birth of the Endeavor Games, which is celebrating its 15th year in 2014. The Endeavor Games will be Thursday and through Sunday at six sites in Edmond, Oklahoma City and near Arcadia.
The first Endeavor Games in 2000 featured 91 athletes competing in five different sports.
“It was almost an experiment at the time to see if it would work in Oklahoma,” Shaklee said. “There was no guarantee we would do it again.”
Fifteen years later, the Endeavor Games has more than doubled its number of sports and more than tripled its number of athletes. A total of 350 athletes are expected to compete this year, some in multiple events.
“When you just leap off and do something you don’t know where it’s going to take you,” Shaklee said. “To see it like it is now, it’s really amazing.”
A non-profit group formed to organize the first Endeavor Games. It later partnered with the University of Central Oklahoma, and Shaklee became executive director of UCO’s Wellness Center, where U.S. Paralympic Clinics are being held Thursday.