The Special Olympics Cayman Islands Week of Awareness begins with an opening ceremony and track and field competition at the Truman Bodden Sports Complextomorrow, starting at 3pm.
‘We are thrilled to be back at the TBSC,’ said training director Penny McDowall. ‘We have only had scaled back competitions recently because the track was not available.’
Athletics head coach Susan Whittaker agrees. ‘Being able to train and compete on the track challenges the athletes more and gets them in better physical shape to be ready for the competition.’
SOCI has been in existence in the Cayman Islands since 1988. It is primarily a volunteer organization with the major source of funding coming from donations and fund-raising activities.
There is no charge to participate in Special Olympics. Locally the program caters to approximately 60 athletes, through the volunteer services of 18 certified coaches, another 10 committed volunteers plus the board of directors.
Local businesses and service groups also volunteer, especially for special events such as the national games. SOCI is part of the Special Olympics Caribbean group which includes 23 countries in the region.
The past year has been a busy one for SOCI and the upcoming week will give the athletes and coaches the opportunity to demonstrate the results of their hard work. There will be competitions and demonstrations of the five disciplines currently being offered: track and field, aquatics, bocce, basketball and football.
The general public is being invited to support athletes for the entire week but especially to the event tomorow which marks the opening of the week’s activities.
‘The return to the Sports Complex is a big deal for us and will be reflected in the opening ceremony which takes place just before the start of the athletics competition,’ said Chairman of the SOCI board Eric Crutchley. The opening will include a Law Enforcement Torch Run, parade of athletes and coaches and the recitation of the athletes’ oath; uniformed youth groups and sponsors will also be on hand to support the athletes.