About 550 athletes with special needs from schools and adult-enrichment programs in Carter, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties will participate and more than 200 local volunteers will there to coordinate the games.
University and city leaders scheduled to speak during opening ceremonies planned for both days of the games include Johnson City Mayor David Tomita, ETSU football coach Carl Torbush and ETSU President Brian Noland.
On Thursday, the Johnson City Police Department will lead area first responders in their annual Special Olympics Torch Run from City Hall along State of Franklin Road and onto the floor of the mini-dome. Garrison Buchanan, a specially selected athlete from Science Hill High School, will light the Special Olympics cauldron.
The opening ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. both days with a parade of athletes featuring about 300 Special Olympians ages 8 to 21 on Thursday and about 250 adult athletes ages 22 and older on Friday.
In addition to remarks from the city and university dignitaries, the opening ceremonies also will include a presentation of the colors by local high school Junior ROTC units, high school drum corps accompaniments for the parade of athletes, a performance by the Science Hill Spirit Squad on Thursday and a special musical performance on Friday.
Area 3 Special Olympics Public Relations Coordinator Sara Green invited all Special Olympic athlete families, friends and fans as well as the public to come out and enjoy “an uplifting and exciting day for athletes, coaches, parents and volunteers alike.”
Area 3 Special Olympics Co-Director Rachel Keller said Special Olympics events and the track and field games in particular are great events not only for the athletes but for volunteers and other people in the community to gather together and celebrate Special Olympics.
Keller expressed special appreciation for the volunteers who make the games possible. “Special Olympics are totally volunteer based and without our volunteers and the our community we wouldn’t be able to support this event or any other Special Olympic event.
“We would love to have the community come out and volunteer with us, or just come and support the athletes,” Keller said.
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