By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Courage. Honor. Bravery.
The Unified Special Olympics, that will be held in Havre Aug. 20-22, will give athletes the opportunity to display those attributes and to participate and compete in bocce ball, cycling and softball.
The mission of the Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with mental retardation. The Olympics gives them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Any time someone is given a chance to compete at this level, in team sports or individual sports, they can only gain from the experience, said Kim Cripps, coordinator of the opening and closing ceremonies at the games.
Over 50 athletes, nine teams from around Montana, are expected to attend the games. Every athlete will receive a medal.
This is good because a participant can look at their medal and say, Wow, I did that, Cripps said.
Bocce ball, which has been added to the games recently, is an event favorite.
This is great because a lot of people dont know what it is, Cripps said. It gets people out, watching the game.
Softball, the only team competition, is also a favorite because of the team cohesion it can build, Cripps said.
The opening ceremonies kick off the event Friday at 7 p.m. at the National Guard Armory with the athlete parade that will be led by the Havre High School cheerleaders. The Boy Scouts will present the colors at the ceremony.
Saturday holds events at both Pepin Park and the Townhouse Inns where the awards ceremony, dinner and dance will take place. The softball competition is slated for Sunday, Aug. 22, at 6th Ave. Softball Field.
This is the third year, in a three-year rotation, that the Unified games have been held in Havre and the local business support has been great, Cripps said.
Businesses donate food and beverages and land for use by the Unified games. Taco Johns, AT&T Cable, Havre Parks and Recreation, Coke and Pepsi, Townhouse Inn and the Havre Police Department are just a few of the businesses who make donations so that the games can be held in Havre, Cripps said.