Missouri Special Olympics outdoor championships coming to Cape Girardeau

Friday, December 4, 2009

Special Olympics officials announced Thursday that the next four-year block of State Outdoor Championships will be held in Cape Girardeau.

About 800 athletes are expected to participate in the three-sport event next year, scheduled Aug. 13 to 15. While golf, softball and tennis are the sports scheduled for competition in 2010, organizers said more sports could be added through 2013.

"The Special Olympics represent why we serve," Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson told a crowd of about 50 gathered inside the Arena Building. "This is the big time. The city of Cape Girardeau will come out and embrace this event."

The application process has been ongoing for years, said Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation recreation division manager Penny Williams. While the area has always had Special Olympics supporters, Williams said the addition of three softball fields at Shawnee Park Sports Complex, renovation of the Jaycees golf course and completion of the aquatic center in 2010 helped seal the city's opportunity to host the state games for the first time.

"We've wanted to land this event for so many years but never quite had the appropriate facilities needed," Williams said. "Now we have those facilities and the event which we're excited to bring to Cape Girardeau."

For the event to be a success, between 350 and 450 volunteers and $25,000 to $45,000 will be needed, Williams and Knudtson said. City leaders said more information on how to volunteer will be announced in coming weeks.

The competition could be one of the biggest events of the year for the economy, said Chuck Martin, executive director of the Cape Girardeau Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition to the 800 athletes expected to participate in the competition, 2,200 family members of the athletes as well as officials likely will spend money on entertainment, food and lodging.

"You're talking about three days of a significant economic impact," Martin said.

Among those athletes excited about the event coming to the area is Lucas Blattel, a Special Olympics athlete from Cape Girardeau. Blattel has participated in Special Olympics for six years and has competed in such sports as basketball, bowling, powerlifting, soccer and softball.

"It's pretty awesome," Blattel said. "This is the real thing. We have so many athletes of this caliber coming to Cape Girardeau for three days for some high quality level of competition."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent address:

410 Kiwanis Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

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