The University of St. Thomas will be host to the Special Olympics Minnesota 2013 Spring Games this weekend.

From Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, approximately 1,700 athletes from Minnesota are expected to participate, along with more than 75 unified partners and 680 coaches. (“Unified Sports combine athletes with and without disabilities on the same team. By participating together, athletes and partners improve their physical fitness, sharpen their skills, challenge the competition and overcome prejudices about intellectual disabilities.” ~ Special Olympics Minnesota website)

To participate in the Spring Games, an athlete must compete in an area competition leading into the Spring Games. These games are a qualifier for the 2014 National Games in New Jersey. Scheduled events this weekend include aquatics, traditional basketball, unified basketball and powerlifting. The games will begin at 5 p.m. Friday in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex with a unified basketball tournament. The tournament is expected to run until 10 p.m.

Basketball, powerlifting and aquatics all get under way Saturday morning in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex and in McCarthy Gym.

Celebration ceremonies will be held from 7:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday. FOX 9 chief meteorologist Ian Leonard will serve as emcee. Speakers include Dave Dorn, Special Olympics Minnesota president and CEO, and Elliot Jaffe, head of commercial banking for U.S. Bank (a Spring Games title sponsor). A dance will follow the celebration ceremonies.

Aquatics, and full-court and half-court basketball tournaments will be happening most of the day Sunday in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex and in McCarthy Gym.

Philosophy

According to the Special Olympics Minnesota website, “Special Olympics Minnesota is founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports, adapted as necessary to meet the needs of those with intellectual and physical disabilities.”

A brochure with general information about Special Olympics Minnesota can be viewed here. To watch Special Olympians in action, see Special Olympics Minnesota: Experience It!