Approximately 1,000 Special Olympics athletes and their coaches descended on the UC Davis Campus to compete in the 2017 Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games. After weeks of training and participating at a qualifying competition, the athletes competed in bocce, swimming, tennis or track & field in state-of-the-art collegiate athletic facilities on the UC Davis campus.
Summer Games is the culminating competition for our spring sports season and is one of the largest Special Olympics sporting competitions in Northern California. The minimum age of the competitors is eight years of age and there is no age limit cap. Athletes have varying ability levels and are put into divisions to compete against athletes of the approximate equal skill level. Over 1,200 volunteers were on hand to fill a variety of volunteer positions over the course of the weekend.
An important part of Summer Games is the running of the Special Olympics Torch, the "Flame of Hope" prior to the start of the Games. The Flame of Hope was relayed through our communities throughout Northern California, escorted by various law enforcement agency personnel. The final relay of the Torch started at the State Capitol building, ending at Opening Ceremony where it lit the caldron signaling the opening of the Games. It iwas estimated that over 2,000 Law Enforcement personnel had the honor of escorting the Flame of Hope in their community on its journey to the Games. Many of them were at Summer Games presenting awards to the athletes on Saturday and Sunday.
The weekend's festivities began with Opening Ceremony on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the UC ARC Pavilion. Opening Ceremony is an evening of excitement for our athletes, and the coaches, families and volunteers who support Special Olympics.
The ceremony began with the traditional parade of athletes. Athletes and their coaches were welcomed to the Games by the "Wall of Honor" consisting of law enforcement personnel from all over Northern California who raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics throughout the year.
Opening Ceremony concluded with the dramatic arrival of the Flame of Hope escorted by a police motorcade and law enforcement personnel. The law enforcement personnel were joined by Special Olympics athletes, and together, they lit the Special Olympics caldron to officially open the Games.
Athletes are why we exist. Volunteers are how we exist. In addition to the 250 volunteer coaches who accompanied the athletes to the Games, another 1,200 volunteers came out over the course of the weekend and helped in a wide variety of volunteer duties. Our corporate partners and sponsors encouraged their employees to come out and volunteer their time and experience the pure joy, sportsmanship and athletic ability of our athletes at every level. Community groups also came out in force to cheer the athletes on as they competed in their events.
In order for athletes to perform at their best, both on and off the playing field, we believe promoting a healthy life style to our athletes is critical to their success. The Healthy Athletes program is dedicated to providing health services and education to Special Olympics athletes and changing the way health systems interact wth people with intellectual disabilities. Our Summer Games was the perfect venue to introduce and educate our athletes on healthy living. We offered Fit Feet, Healthy Hearing, Special Smiles and Strong Minds. The athletes rotated through different stations and learned about proper health care from trained clinicians for each of the disciplines offered.
After weeks of training and competing at a regional competition, athletes experienced the thrill of competing in state-of-the-art collegiate athletic facilities on the UC Davis campus.
Bocce - A Street Field
Swimming - Schaal Aquatic Center & Hickey Gym Pool
Tennis - Welch Tennis Center
Track & Field - Toomey Field
Olympic Village provided athletes the opportunity to relax, make new friends and unwind in between their competitive events. Corporate sponsor employees were on hand with a variety of activities for the athletes to enjoy. An athlete favorite is always our Law Enforcement booth, where they can hang out with their favorite officers and show off their well-deserved awards.
Find out everything you wanted to know about the Summer Games and more!