SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of athletes will be competing this weekend at the 51st annual Special Olympics Rhode Island State Summer Games at the University of Rhode Island.
Athletes, coaches, families and volunteers from across the state gathered Friday night at Keaney Gym for opening ceremonies, which included the annual parade of athletes, the entrance of the Torch Run’s final leg and the lighting of the Special Olympics cauldron.
CEO of Special Olympics RI Dennis DeJesus said he is proud of how far the event has come since it was created by Eunice Kennedy Shriver 51 years ago.
“For people with intellectual disabilities, it’s an opportunity for them to showcase their talents, work hard and forge friendships,” DeJesus said.
More than 4,000 athletes will compete against their peers in athletics, bowling, cycling, motor activities training program, power-lifting, swimming and unified soccer throughout the duration of the event.
Athlete Christina Peacock gave the keynote speaker address this year at the opening ceremonies. She tells Eyewitness News she loves Special Olympics for many reasons.
“I’ve made so many friends and I love competing for a medal,” Peacock said.
Eyewitness News Anchor Mike Montecalvo and Sports Director Yianni Kourakis were the emcees for the event.
Eyewitness News is a proud sponsor of Special Olympics RI’s 2019 State Summer Games.