The Special Olympics USA Games is a premier, national sports competition that showcases the power and joy of sports at the highest levels. From July 1-6, 2018 more than 4,000 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the District of Columbia arrived in Seattle and the surrounding region along with 10,000 family members and friends.
In addition to showcasing the awe-inspiring abilities of thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities, the 2018 USA Games in Seattle models the ideals of inclusion and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics movement.
The USA Games take place every four years with previous host cities being: Ames, Iowa (2006); Lincoln, Nebraska (2010); and Lawrenceville, New Jersey (2014). Now, in its fourth running, the Special Olympics USA Games is in Seattle.
I was one of the 10,000+ volunteers working to help support the Games. I loved having the opportunity to welcome the families and athletes to Seattle by volunteering the first 2 days of the event at the Family Welcoming Center. I was part of a volunteer group that greeted all the families fresh from the airport and worked to get them settled in the Seattle area.
It was so fun to meet families from across the U.S. and provide them information on family activities, demonstrate how to use light rail and the bus system, recommend restaurants and must see Seattle sights. Almost everyone wanted to ride the elevator to the top of the newly renovated Space Needle, attend a Mariners baseball game and get a peak at Mt. Rainier. The athletes stay with their coaches in the dorms on the University of Washington campus and their families wanted to make the best of their "down time' to see the area.
The games offer 14 sports including swimming, flag football and soccer. With the exception of the Opening Ceremony, all events are free and local families are encourage to come cheer, wave signs and make some noise. Venues include the University of Washington, King County Aquatic Center, Seattle University and Celebration Park.
The Special Olympics USA Games is the biggest sporting event to hit the Seattle area in more than 25 years and I am so glad that I was able to volunteer, use my knowledge of Seattle and the area to introduce so many families to Seattle!