By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma 2018 Special Olympics Winter Games will be held January 11 – 13 on the University of Oklahoma campus and in surrounding communities. Special Olympics athletes from 14 areas in Oklahoma are preparing for the 22nd annual event.
A record number of nearly 3,400 athletes from across the state are expected to participate in the Oklahoma Winter Games. Athletes will compete in Aquatics, Bowling, Basketball, Basketball Skills, Volleyball and Volleyball Skills. Other events include Young Athletes Stars of the Future and Olympic Town.
The Opening Ceremonies Victory Celebration and Dance will be held on Friday night, January 12 at Journey Church, 3801 Journey Parkway, in Norman. This year’s theme is “Star Wars.” During the opening ceremonies, the 2018 Stacie Shipman Youth Volunteer of the Year Award recipient will be announced..
Members of law enforcement will be present at all venues and will enter the Opening Ceremonies carrying the “Flame of Hope.”
There are currently more than 140 participating agencies in Oklahoma who in 2017 raised $375,000 for Special Olympics Oklahoma through merchandise sales and local fundraising events, such as Cops on Doughnut Shops, Polar Plunges and Tip-A- Cops.
Each year in January, the Law Enforcement Torch Run Executive Committee hosts the annual kick-off luncheon. Law enforcement officers and employees from agencies around the state are honored with awards for their agencies.
Founded in 1986, the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for Special Olympics is the largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness event of the Oklahoma Winter Games.
“I still love going to the events and will continue as long as I can.” says Jim Fisher, Lieutenant, Oklahoma Highway Patrol (Retired) who has been involved since 2000. ”I have so much fun and the families that I meet are amazing. Every year I set a goal of what I will do and how much money I will attempt to raise for Special Olympics. This has become a challenge for me to beat the year before. I challenge you to set your own goal and go for it.”
The 2018 LETR Kick-off and Awards Luncheon will be held on Thursday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. at the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge, at 1624 S. Agnew Avenue. The event will offer a 4-hour accredited CLEET course Thursday morning on the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics at 8 a.m. RSVP to [email protected] or 918-481-1234. To learn more about the Torch Run, visit letrok.org
At the Winter Games, the Young Athletes “Stars of the Future” program will feature future Special Olympics athletes ages 3 through 7. These children go through several stations, receiving training in events such as bowling, soccer, golf and basketball.
Winter Special Olympics schedule of events:
Thurs., Jan. 11 – Swimming Mitch Park Family “Y”, 2901 Marilyn Williams Dr., Edmond, OK 73034
Fri, Jan. 12 – Bowling AMF Boulevard, 3501 S. Boulevard St., Edmond AMF Windsor, 4600 NW 23rd, OKC El Reno, 2412 Sunset Dr # 76, El Reno, OK 73036 Fire Lake, 40945 Hardesty Road, Shawnee
Planet Bowl, 6601 Tinker Diagonal, Midwest City
Fri, Jan. 12– Volleyball Unified Teams and Skills The University of Oklahoma – Sarkey’s Fitness Center, 1401 Asp Ave., Norman
Fri, Jan. 12 – Opening Ceremonies Victory Celebration and Dance Journey Church, 3801 Journey Parkway, Norman
Sat., Jan. 13 – Basketball Teams, Skills and Young Athletes “Stars of the Future The University of Oklahoma – Sarkey’s Fitness Center, 1401 Asp Ave., Norman
Sat, Jan. 13 – Bowling Heritage Lanes, 11917 N. Pennsylvania Ave., OKC Holiday Lanes, 44S.E. 44th St., OKC Planet Bowl, 6601 Tinker Diagonal, Midwest City
Volunteers are needed for the Oklahoma Winter Special Olympics. The games provide an opportunity for volunteers to directly help athletes at all venues or with behind-the-scenes support. Register online here.
The Special Olympics Oklahoma office, at 6835 S. Canton Avenue, in Tulsa, can be reached at 918 481 1234.