Special Olympics ‘Games’

Special Olympics athletes Matthew Ebanks and Andrew Smilley pose.

Special Olympics Cayman Islands kicks off its 30-year anniversary and Special Olympics International’s 50-year celebrations with the inaugural Special Olympics Beach Games this Saturday.

Being held at Seven Mile Public Beach from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., it gives members of the public a chance to interact with Cayman’s athletes and have some fun.

The Beach Games

Partnering with Sunrise Adult Training Centre, the focus is on Unified Sports®, which brings together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the playing field. According to Special Olympics International, the concept was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

Unified Sports® team competitions will include volleyball, football and bocce, and organizers are encouraging corporations, families, volunteers, and sports enthusiasts to join in. Activities will also include paddle boarding, tug-of-war, and an obstacle course for younger athletes. The games are sponsored in part by Engel & Volkers.

In addition to the sports, the day also provides the community with the opportunity to learn more about the work that both Special Olympics Cayman Islands and Sunrise Adult Training Centre do to serve people with intellectual disabilities. Both organizations will have displays which will include Sunrise clients’ arts and crafts, and information about volunteering with the Special Olympics group.

Athlete Julius Smith and Coach Penny McDowall have fun at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

Special Olympics Cayman Islands

The organization was established in 1988 and provides year-round training to persons with intellectual disabilities based on the premise that with regular sports training, athletes lead fuller, more self-sufficient lives, and can achieve success on and off the competition field.

Right now, approximately 120 athletes train in aquatics, track and field, bocce, basketball, football, golf, and stand-up paddle boarding.

It is a banner year for Special Olympics Cayman Islands, which in addition to celebrating 30 years of service, is also preparing for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Over the next several months, athletes will be training under the guidance of their dedicated volunteer coaches. The board is launching its fundraising efforts for the Games calling on the community and corporate partners to help make athletes’ dreams of performing on the world stage a reality.

Kanza Bodden, center, at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

Special Olympics International

Special Olympics was founded in 1968, by the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver whose vision and passion created a global organization that serves more than 4.9 million athletes with intellectual disabilities in 172 countries. It is a movement founded on inclusion, hope, and the simple joy that comes with play.

To learn more, visit www.specialolympics.org. To register in advance for the Beach Games, email [email protected] or [email protected], or just grab your beach gear and come down on Saturday.