Since 1971, Central Michigan University has been host to the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games. Each year, more than 2,700 athletes travel to Mount Pleasant to compete in 10 different competition events.

This year’s State Summer Games take place June 2-4 and are sponsored by SpartanNash. It’s the perfect summer event to be inspired by. Check out five reasons why you should be a fan at the 2016 State Summer Games.

  1. To spend a few days surrounded by smiles, joy and accomplishment.

The energy and charisma of a Special Olympics Michigan athlete is contagious. When an athlete is smiling you can’t help but smile too. All the athletes competing in the State Summer Games are extremely excited to be there. Not only to compete in their own events but also to cheer on the other athletes. Special Olympics Michigan athletes are courageous, kind and compassionate which shows in their bright smiles each day.


  1. To expand your definition of compassion and kindness.

A compassionate person is someone who shows kindness, caring and a willingness to help others. Compassionate individuals are everywhere at the State Summer Games. Whether they’re athletes, coaches, volunteers or spectators, compassion is everywhere you look.

  1. To cheer on amazing athletes.

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” this oath, said at the beginning of every Special Olympics event is a true testament to the strength of these athletes. Those who compete in Special Olympics Michigan events are athletes—true athletes. They’re dedicated to their sport just as much as any other athlete. They strive to not only succeed themselves but also to see others succeed. They’re truly amazing athletes that deserve to have a stadium full of people cheering them on.


  1. To see what determination and perseverance looks like.

These athletes may face many obstacles in their day-to-day life but they don’t let those barriers bring them down. They are extremely dedicated to competing, succeeding and winning in their competitions. They show great determination and perseverance in every event they compete in and everything they accomplish.

  1. To learn the true definition of “special”.

For many, the term “special” often comes with an automatic and undeserved expression of pity and an overall negative connotation. At the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games, “special” takes on a whole new positive meaning. The athletes competing in these events are not “special” because they have intellectual disabilities but rather because they have amazing ABILITIES. You’ll meet athletes that will utterly astound you. Some of the most caring, athletic, competitive, determined and inspiring individuals.


Special Olympics Michigan programs build friendships and teach athletes to have confidence in themselves. Supporting events like the State Summer Games show athletes that all they are striving for is valued. These amazing athletes can teach anyone a lot about determination, compassion and the importance of a smile.


Katia SpecialO

Katia Koerner is a Central Michigan University senior majoring in Public Relations. This summer she is a Marketing and Communication Intern at Special Olympics Michigan.