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Special Olympics kick off at CMU

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The annual Special Olympics summer games kicked off at Central Michigan University. Organizers, coaches, and of course the athletes were as excited as ever.

 

Twenty-six hundred athletes and an estimated thirty-four hundred volunteers, and spectators attend the summer games, making it the largest Special Olympics event in Michigan.

 

Dan Ekonen is the Director of Unified Sports Initiatives for Special Olympics of Michigan. He said the way society views handicapped individuals has dramatically changed over the past few decades, and he’s excited to see how many people are embracing the abilities of everybody.

 

“Our students today they get it and they’re not only doing this to have fun they’re saying this is what I want in my life. I want everybody to be included. I want everybody to be able to come here and have fun and celebrate. So that’s the future”.

 

Ekonen said there are a lot of people that come see the games and then want to be a part of them. He encourages anybody to come out and be a fan in the stands to support the athletes.

 

The first thing on the summer games agenda was unity day.

 

Kate Bultema is a teacher at Orchard View in Muskegon. She said unity day builds harmony among the athletes.

 

“We have students in special education with their same age general education peers. They’re together and they’re teaming together. The athletes are especially happy to have their friends around to help them”.

 

Bultema said it means so much to students in special education to participate with their peers and be included in unity day.