Skip to main content

Northern Michigan Prepares to Host 45th Annual Special Olympics Michigan State Winter Games

Athletes Celebrate at 2023 SOMI State Winter Games

 Join the excitement as Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) athletes and Unified partners from more than 60 counties across Michigan take part in the 2024 State Winter Games presented by Wertz Warriors. The celebration runs January 30 – February 2 at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa (GTRS), Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek Resorts, and Howe Ice Arena at the Grand Traverse Civic Center. 

“I look forward to Winter Games all year long,” said Leslie Venema, a Special Olympics Athlete Leader and Holt-based SOMI Cross Country Skier. “It is a time to be with my friends, support them, and push my limits on the trails. I also get to showcase my public speaking as I work to gain confidence in front of a crowd.” Venema will serve as co-Master of Ceremonies on Wednesday, January 31, alongside SOMI Board Member and Fox17 Morning Mix Anchor, Michelle Dunaway.

2024 marks the 45th Special Olympics Michigan State Winter Games – all of which have been held in the greater Grand Traverse area. More than 1,500 competitors, coaches, and volunteers will gather in person to participate this year. Sports competition includes snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, snowboarding, and figure skating. All events are free and open to the public. 

Presenting Partner of the 2024 State Winter Games, Wertz Warriors are a group of nearly 100 dedicated individuals who travel on snowmobiles for a 900-mile endurance ride from Clinton Township to Mackinaw City, raising money and awareness for Special Olympics Michigan athletes. The ride departs Sunday, January 28 and runs through February 3. 

"I am so very proud to be a part of the Wertz Warriors supporting the Special Olympics Michigan State Winter Games,” said Al Melfi, SOMI Board of Directors member and Wertz Warrior. “I was first introduced to Special Olympics in 2007, that moment was a calling for me and continues to be, a life-changing experience. I'm very proud to be entering my 11th year with the Wertz Warriors and I look forward, once again to seeing all of my athlete friends in Traverse City later this month."

Wertz Warriors was created by Vic Wertz, who had a dream to underwrite the Special Olympics Michigan State Winter Games. Since his dream became a reality in 1982, Wertz Warriors has raised awareness and more than $14.5 million for SOMI athletes. This year is the 43rd ride for the Wertz Warriors.

Detroit Lions great Luther Bradley returns to the Wertz Warriors for the duration of the ride this year. Bradley was an All-American defensive back at Notre Dame and member of two national championship teams with the Fighting Irish. A first-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1978, Bradley played four seasons in Detroit, later spending three years in the United States Football League (USFL) and is the league’s all-time interception leader.


January 30
2:00 p.m.– 4:00 p.m. Delegation Arrival (GTRS)

January 31
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Time Trials (all venues)
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wertz Warriors Arrival/ Snowmobile Rides (GTRS)
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Opening Ceremony (GTRS)

February 1
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sports Competition (all venues) 
7:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Closing Ceremony (GTRS)
8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Victory Dance (GTRS)

February 2
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Sports Competition (Schuss only) 

Complete event and competition schedules are available here. All schedules are subject to change. 


Presenting Partner
Wertz Warriors

Statewide Partners
Real Estate One Charitable Foundation
Gun Lake Casino

Civic Partners
Law Enforcement Torch Run
Knights of Columbus
Water Warriors