TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTWO) — With a law enforcement Torch Run from Pacesetter Sports, to a Run Unified Relay at Gibson Track, the Special Olympics Indiana Summer Games are underway in Terre Haute.
In 2018, over 2,700 athletes competed in the games, and this year 2,868 are competing.
“Yeah 50th anniversary is pretty special,” said David Patterson, Executive Director of the Vigo County Convention and Visitors Center. “A lot of people have come back that maybe haven’t been here for a few years.”
Volleyball athlete Ken Melvin has been competing for 27 years.
He says Special Olympics Indiana changed his life.
“Another athlete asked me to join and because that athlete asked me to join, I changed my life around,” he said. “It gave me a purpose to be around and a family to be around.”
Melvin looks forward to the games every year, and he hopes to be in attendance in the next 50 years.
“I never though I’d be here. But I’m hoping, praying I can be at the next 50,” he said. “Be at the 100th.”
Founded by Indiana State University professors Dr. Tom Songster and Dr. Judy Campbell, 49 of the 50 games have been held in Terre Haute.
“Only one year was it at the old Busch Stadium in Indianapolis,” said Patterson.
And each year the community is happy to welcome the 2,868 athletes, 1,200 coaches, 1,800 volunteers and support teams.
“It’s a wonderful event for our community. Hotels are full, the housing at both the college campuses,” said Patterson. “So it’s nice to have a lot of great people in town for a wonderful event.”