Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

More than 800 athletes compete in Special Olympics spring game

More than 800 athletes competed in basketball and swimming events last weekend as UW Oshkosh hosted this year’s annual Special Olympics Wisconsin spring games.

For many who attended the April 12-14 event, Special Olympics Wisconsin is more than just a competition. Rather, for many it is a way for people to come together. 

Fans and observers described the competitions — swimming, team basketball, three on three basketball and basketball skills — as intense, spectacular, excellent and truly special.

One volunteer of Manitowoc has been volunteering for the Special Olympics for 35 years. He encouraged people to attend the competition.

“Experience it at least once,” he said. “Whether that be just to visit to see what’s going on or to come help, it’ll change your life.”

It truly was an experience worth watching. The athletes, families and volunteers had such a different attitude than what is seen at regular sporting events. There was a unity in the environment that isn’t seen often at athletic events. It wasn’t a team versus team to see who comes out on top, but rather that the athletes were there to play and have a good time. 

One parent said competing in Special Olympics Wisconsin was liberating for her son.

They said, “I think it gives him (her son) the chance to be who he truly is. Not have to cover up anything.”

This was the second year of volunteering at Special Olympics for another volunteer, of Oshkosh. This year, he escorted athletes to and from the pool area and also worked as a personal escort for one of the athletes who moved a bit slower than the other participants.

“It’s great to see the joy and enthusiasm of the athletes and how much they enjoy competing against each other,” he said. “Yet, they fully support and cheer each other on in every event. Their sportsmanship is fantastic.”

The Special Olympics athletes also had the opportunity to mingle with professional athletes when the Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour stopped by to award a surprise grant of $250,000 to Special Olympics Wisconsin. Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, and current and former players Kenny Clark, Elgton Jenkins, Bryan Bulaga and others exchanged high fives and posed for photos with the Olympians.

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