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Special Olympics Michigan Celebrates 50 Years of In-Person State Summer Games at Central Michigan University

Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) is excited to mark a historic milestone, celebrating 50 years of in-person State Summer Games on the campus of Central Michigan University (CMU), May 30 – June 1, 2024. More than 2,500 athletes from across the state will compete in 90 events, commemorating five decades of quality sports competition.

Since its inception in 1972, the State Summer Games – SOMI’s largest annual event – have showcased the power sport has to bring communities together, highlighting the unified movement and push for a more inclusive world.

“The energy and enthusiasm of SOMI’s State Summer Games would not be possible without the hospitality of our friends at Central Michigan University,” said Tim Hileman, President & CEO of Special Olympics Michigan. “In addition to three days of quality sports competition, our friends at CMU help us showcase the power of inclusion by allowing us to take over campus for a few days. The history of the partnership is recognized and celebrated statewide.”

The 2024 State Summer Games will feature eight certified sports: Athletics, Bocce, Bowling, Gymnastics, Horseshoes, Swimming, Powerlifting, and Volleyball. 

"We are immensely honored to host the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games on our campus for the 50th time,” said Bob Davies, President of Central Michigan University. “This milestone not only signifies our enduring commitment to inclusiveness but also celebrates the remarkable spirit and determination of all the athletes who live by the motto of being brave in all their efforts. Central Michigan University is proud to once again welcome athletes from across Michigan to showcase their talents and inspire us all.”

The State Summer Games are one of seven annual statewide competitions offered by Special Olympics Michigan. Athletes participating in State Summer Games qualified through local and regional competition. This year marks the 55th State Summer Games, 50 of which have taken place on the campus of Central Michigan University.

The Flame of Hope, symbolizing the official start of Summer Games, will be carried by the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) and lit at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 – the culmination of Opening Ceremony at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The Michigan LETR is SOMI’s single largest grassroots fundraiser, contributing more than $2 million annually allowing athletes to travel and participate in Summer Games and other regional day-long sports competition and no cost to them. 

Grand Rapids-based partner and State Summer Games presenting partner, SpartanNash, will award SOMI a $150,000 donation at Opening Ceremony, the outcome of a six-week statewide spring fundraiser taking place at company stores across the state. Throughout its 40-year partnership with Special Olympics, the SpartanNash Foundation has raised more than $10.3 million for the organization.

On Thursday, May 30, SOMI will host nearly 350 athletes for a Unified competition, celebrating the ability of sport to bring athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together on the same team. 

May 31 and June 1 will feature traditional sports competition. In addition, participants will also be offered free vision, hearing, dental, and health screenings as part of SOMI’s Healthy Athletes program. Additionally, a Healthy Young Athletes and Young Athletes program will be offered for children ages 2-7 focusing on fine and gross motor skills. A full schedule of events can be found here. 

For the latest on competition and details on the 2024 State Summer Games, download the Special Olympics Michigan app for free at the App Store or on Google Play starting May 25. The app will include schedules, maps, competition results, photos, and more.