1. More than, 1,200 athletes from throughout South Carolina will participate in eight sports: aquatics, badminton, bowling, bocce, softball and power lifting (which will be held on base at Fort Jackson), gymnastics (All-Star Gym in Irmo) and Track and Field (Westwood High School in Blythewood). “We train hard-core athletes,” says Leigh Cheatham, communications director for Special Olympics South Carolina. “One of our swimmers is in the pool four days a week training for the USA Games in Princeton next month.”
2. Fort Jackson soldiers are heavily involved — and have been for 46 years. “The solders of the 2-13 (2nd Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment) are incredibly supportive,” notes Cheatham. “I don’t know what we’d do without them, or the Fort Jackson civilian employees who come out to help.”
3. And so is law enforcement. Officers, deputies and troopers participate each year in the Capitol in the Cauldron torch run, which raised $618,000 for Special Olympics South Carolina last year. “The first phase of the run involves agency members running from their cities to Columbia, with a planned mass arrival at the State House with the Special Olympics Flame of Hope at 11:30 a.m.,” explains Cheatham. “After a rest, they’ll return that evening to run the torch to Fort Jackson, where an athlete will light the cauldron to signify the official opening of the Summer State Games.
4. You can go. And it’s free. To attend the Ft. Jackson events, you’ll need a government-issued photo ID. Enter at Gate 2, Forest Drive.
The Special Olympics South Carolina State Summer Games begin Friday, at 8 a.m. and end Saturday. For more information, visit so-sc.org
Katie McElveen, Special to The State