Special Olympics Michigan: Opening ceremony kicks off with excitement from athletes, volunteers
More than 5,000 athletes, volunteers, coaches and family members gathered Thursday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium to kick off the 2014 Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games.
The event started with the procession of the torch, dubbed the Flame of Hope, which was carried in by Byron Chief of Police Tim Sampey during the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run. Law enforcement officials, ranging from local officers to Michigan State Troopers, have been volunteering, fundraising and running the torch from Lansing to Mount Pleasant for more than 30 years.
Singing the National Anthem was former "American Idol" contestant and Mount Pleasant native Shubha Vedula, as teams of athletes from all over Michigan paraded in laps around Kelly/Shorts Stadium. They were joined by their coaches, friends and family members who shared gracious smiles and bursts of dancing as the ceremonies carried on.
A few Central Michigan University athletes, including football tight ends Deon Butler and Zach Crouch, joined the festivities, dancing and pumping up the athletes from the games that start Friday and continue until Saturday afternoon. Members of the football team volunteer annually with the games, specifically during the weightlifting portion of the weekend-long competition.
For more coverage of the Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games, check out our special print edition on stands around CMU's campus, or on cm-life.com.