Baltimore, MD -In true Olympic fashion, Special Olympics Maryland is kicking off the 2009 Summer Games at Towson University with a song, ending it with a salute, and showcasing 1,200 of the state's most inspirational athletes in between! This celebrated weekend is the highlight of the year for many of the participants, and includes athletes from every county in Maryland, all going for Gold after several months of training and hard work to be the best they can be in their particular sport.
Honored guests participating in the Summer Games Opening Ceremony Friday evening include Ravens QB **Joe Flacco**, Ravens offensive tackle #78 **Adam Terry**(performing as a singer), acoustic artist Angelique Henle, former World Champion figure skater Kimmie Meissner, Amelia from 98 Rock's Mickey Amelia & Spiegel Show, Miss Maryland & Miss Teen Maryland and more.
WHAT: 2009 Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games – a state-level competition featuring contests in aquatics, athletics (track and field), bocce, cheerleading (new this year!) and softball. Friday's evening's events include the FRE Wal-Mart FanFest Block Party (Auburn House Pavilion), and then the highly anticipated Opening Ceremony (Towson Center).
WHEN:June 5, 6 & 7 (see schedule below for more detail)
WHERE: Towson University, Towson (8000 York Road) (see detailed schedule for exact location of events throughout the weekend)
WHO: 1,200 athletes, representing every county in Maryland, will be competing. An additional 400 coaches, 1,000 volunteers, and 1,500 family members and other spectators are expected to be on hand to celebrate the accomplishments of the athletes during the weekend. Notable guests include Ravens QB Joe Flacco, Ravens OT Adam Terry, figure skater Kimmie Meissner, acoustic artist Angelique Henle, Miss Maryland, Miss Teen Maryland and Tigers Coach Pat Kennedy, among others.
WHY: Summer Games is the culmination of the spring sports season, offering the competitors the opportunity to test the skills they developed during the minimum 8-week training period against other athletes of like abilities from around the state.
Opening Ceremony:Summer Games features an elaborate Opening Ceremony Friday evening that is jam-packed with entertainment and excitement. Ravens offensive tackle #78 Adam Terry will perform a special song; Ravens QB Joe Flacco will draw a ticket for an autographed Flacco jersey and recite the Special Olympics Athlete Oath; acoustic artist Angelique Henle – recently signed by KaBunk Records – will perform twice; Baltimore's Marching Ravens, Miss Maryland and Miss Teen Maryland will all perform; Alex Barnes, an SOMD athlete from Howard County will do a special saxophone version of the theme from Rocky, and the event will conclude with the dramatic and moving entrance of the "Flame of Hope", escorted by several hundred law enforcement and correctional officers from around the state.
Law Enforcement Torch Run Relay: All week long, law enforcement and correctional officers from all around the state are participating in Torch Run events, escorting the "Flame of Hope" from all four corners of Maryland to the waiting hands of the athletes Friday evening. For a full schedule of Torch Run events this week, click here.
Other Highlights: Olympic Park, a fun-filled area with static displays, interactive booths, carnival games and concessions set up for the athletes to relax in Saturday afternoon/evening; Healthy Athletes Village, where athletes (who are typically and tragically underserved by the medical community) can receive free health screenings in a variety of areas of expertise; the first-ever Project Unify Track & Field Team Meet; a Young Athletes demo area; and special activities for Special Olympics MD Families such as the reception and live auction.
OTHER: All Summer Games activities are free and open to the public.
Summer Games is only one of about a dozen state-level competitions that Special Olympics Maryland organizes each year.
SCHEDULE: The schedule is as follows (all times are approximate and subject to change):
- Wal-Mart FanFest Block Party – Friday, June 5: 4:30 – 7:15 – Auburn House Pavilion
- Opening Ceremony – Friday, June 5: 7:30-9:30 PM inside the Towson Center – Towson University
- Competition– Friday, June 5: 10 AM – 1 PM (Project UNIFY Track & Field Competition – Unitas Stadium); 1 – 5 PM (Cheerleading – Center for the Arts)
- Competition-- Saturday, June 6: 9 AM – 5 PM / Sunday, June 7: 9 AM – 2 PM (Bocce - Burdick Fields; Athletics – Unitas Stadium; Aquatics – Burdick Hall; Softball – Towson Softball Fields and nearby Loch Raven Rec Council)
- Healthy Athletes Village --Saturday, June 6 - 11 AM – 8 PM / Sunday, June 7 – 9 AM – 1 PM) -- Potomac Room
- ·Olympic Park*– *Saturday, June 6 / 4-9:30 PM – Lot 9, next to University Union
- Victory Dance– Saturday, June 6 / 7-10 PM – Lot 9, next to University Union
- Closing Ceremony – Sunday, June 7 @ 2:30 PM – held at each sports venue; times vary depending upon when the competition closes at each venue
SOMD is a year-round sports organization dedicated to providing quality sports training and competition opportunities to Maryland's children and adults with intellectual disabilities and/or closely related development disabilities. SOMD currently serves 10,000 athletes statewide, and offers 28 sports, all at no cost to the athletes or their families. For more information about SOMD visit www.somd.org or call 410-789-6677.