The 2013 Ohio Special Olympics State Summer Games began Friday in Columbus and continue through Sunday, with more than 2,500 athletes from 67 countries attending.
That includes 69 from Lucas County who planned to see the “Flame of Hope” ignited Friday night in Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Summer Games, which feature medal events in 11 sports, are the largest annual Special Olympics event in Ohio, program director Marty Allen said.
They expected to draw 500 family members and spectators. Some 1,000 volunteers are helping with logistics.
Special Olympics Ohio offers athletic training and competition to 23,000 Ohioans who have what the organization describes as intellectual disabilities.
The Summer Games are one of eight statewide competitions held annually. All northwest Ohio counties are represented this weekend, Mr. Allen said.
Lucas County is sending athletes affiliated with two local organizations: Special Olympics Toledo Public, which is comprised of school-age children, and Lucas County Special Olympics, which is open to athletes of all ages.
The Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities has 5,400 clients, including 315 athletes associated with Lucas County Special Olympics and 250 associated with Special Olympics Toledo Public.
The two organizations have 51 and 18 athletes at the games, respectively.
“They’ve been training for a long, long time,” said Steve Mentrek, Lucas County Special Olympics coordinator. “To get to these Summer Games, they had to place first, second, or third in a local competition. This is something they’ve earned.”