Special Olympics will be partnering with Oregon State

Amy Schwartz, Multimedia Contributor

This summer, the Special Olympics Summer Games will be hosting 2,000 athletes, 600 coaches and 1,300 volunteers over the course of two days. Oregon State will be hosting the athletes this summer as a way to create a unique village-like experience for participants.

The partnership between the Special Olympics and Oregon State University came about in a unique way. Ken and Joan Austin, friends and supporters of the university, helped bring about the partnership. Ken Austin was the original Benny the Beaver. The Special Olympics needed a larger venue and Oregon State became a natural fit. President Ed Ray is now on the board of Special Olympics Oregon.

“I think this is going to be Smile City when the Special Olympics are here and everybody is going to feel good about what we’re able to do to be supportive of and to celebrate the athletes,” Ray said. “Many people will come here. I’m sure it will have an economic impact on the community, it will be beneficial for the university for our faculty, staff and students.”

Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber is excited to welcome the Olympians to the city of Corvallis this summer.

“We see ourselves as being or aspiring to be a welcoming community. We want to welcome all people,” Traber said. “We want to support these athletes who are seeking to win or be brave in trying.”

Special Olympics Oregon CEO Margie Hunt spoke about the remarkable spirit of Special Olympians.

“We at Special Olympics have the incredible privilege of living in the middle of miracles,” Hunt said. “We see remarkable things happen all the time. It’s a remarkable, powerful spirit that is a part of what we do. It does come from the ability to overcome challenges.

During the games, Oregon State student athletes will be volunteering and have already taken part in activities with the organization. President Ray knows the student athletes have a unique connection with the Olympians.

“They understand how fragile the opportunities are that they have. They connect with the Special Olympic athletes in a way that the rest of us can’t. They understand how internally driven and focused you need to be to be successful,” Ray said. “They understand how hard these Special Olympic athletes have had to work and how much of their heart and soul they’ve poured into for preparing themselves for the competition.”

The 2017 Summer Games will kick off in July at Reser Stadium.

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