|The Special Olympics Banner Leads The Parade of Athletes|
As we enter this weekend, we also find a growing buzz in this country over the U.S. World Cup Soccer Team and its qualification for the knockout round today. Columbus itself has proven to be particularly soccer-fanatical, ranking #2 on ESPN's broadcast of the U.S. vs. Portugal game. Ohio as a whole has proven to be a solid viewing market for World Cup game viewing with Cincinnati and Dayton also appearing in the top 25 markets on ESPN's ratings. While it remains to be seen whether this sport will truly catch on in this country, there is no denying the enthusiasm of fans rooting on Team USA in this year's World Cup, the biggest international event this side of the Summer Olympics.
Conveniently, these mentions lead me to a set of Ohio-based individuals who I believe are worthy of equally enthusiastic cheering and strong support: the 2,500 athletes competing at the Special Olympics Games this entire weekend in Columbus.
|The "Flame of Hope" burns brightly|
We have also been pleased to watch the Games' Opening Ceremony, held at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on OSU's campus. You can easily see the pride and big smiles of the athletes as they parade around the track representing their various county- or city-level chapters. And then at the end, the ceremony is capped by the culmination of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, in which over 2,000 law enforcement officers have spent the prior week either running or biking with the torch through 200 Ohio communities. A select company from throughout the state combine at the end to escort the torch into the stadium and pass it to the Special Olympics athletes. Once passed, these athletes light "The Flame of Hope", which burns until the close of the games.
Columbus has another big weekend of set of events from around the metro area, from Goodale Park (Comfest) to Grandview Heights (the Grandview Hop), from downtown Powell (the Powell Festival) to German Village (the German Village Haus und Garten Tour), amongst others. We're definitely set to visit some of these other fine events this weekend ourselves.
But if you can spare some time this weekend to cheer on and watch these athletes give it their all in their respective sports, I'm sure it would be worthwhile to you, perhaps even inspirational. At the very least, your support would be considered worthwhile and appreciated by everyone involved with this event.
Ohio Special Olympics - 2014 State Summer Games
Friday, June 27 - Sunday, June 29
Opening Ceremony at 7 PM Friday
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium
The Ohio State University
2450 Fred Taylor Dr
Columbus, OH 43210
(Please consult the Special Olympics website for competition event schedules and related information)