KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The Special Olympics Mississippi 2018 Summer Games was held on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi May 11-13.
More than 3,000 athletes, directors, coaches, family members and volunteers spanning more than 16 regions across Mississippi, attended to celebrate 32 years of Special Olympics events at Keesler.
The three-day-event started with the athlete arrivals May 11, followed by the opening ceremony and Flame of Hope torch run. After a night of rest, the athletes, accompanied by two Airman sponsors, enjoyed a full day of sporting events to include running, bowling, javelin, volleyball, swimming and numerous other events.
“This year’s summer games was hot but it was awesome,” said Jackie Pope, Special Olympics Mississippi Summer Games co-project officer. “We had almost 800 athletes arrive on Friday. We had great weather and I believe all the athletes had a great time.”
Since the beginning of Special Olympics in 1968, the organization has hosted sporting events around the world for people of all ages with special needs. Pope has been volunteering with the Special Olympics for 20 years and believes Keesler is leading the way in community partnership.
“I think Keesler is a perfect model of community partnership with SOMS,” said Pope. “It’s been over 32 years that this partnership has been in place and I believe we have set a great standard on what it’s like to have a community partnership.”
Several groups and communities united to put this event together for the athletes of Mississippi.
“What’s most impressive about the games is the change we see in the Airman sponsors from Friday to Sunday,” said Pope. “On day one they might be a little nervous and apprehensive but by Saturday night, the bond between the athlete and Airmen have evolved into something amazing.”