Reality TV Stars Join Special Olympics Athletes at 2013 State Summer Games Presented by Spartan Stores May 30-June 1

Reality TV Stars Join Special Olympics Athletes at 2013 State Summer Games Presented by Spartan Stores May 30-June 1

Reality TV Stars Join Special Olympics Athletes at 2013 State Summer Games Presented by Spartan Stores May 30-June 1(MT. PLEASANT, Mich.) – Two weeks from today, American Idol star Shubha Vedula and Biggest Loser runner-up Jeff Nichols will join more than 2,600 Special Olympics athletes along with 3,400 coaches, volunteers, chaperones, family members, volunteers and spectators at the 2013 State Summer Games presented by Spartan Stores. The Games run May 30-June 1 on the campus of Central Michigan University and will see the largest athlete turnout in five years. Athletes from nearly all of the 83 counties in Michigan will compete with a chance to qualify for the 2014 National Games in New Jersey – all while experiencing inclusion, unity, acceptance, respect, dignity, friendship and joy!

The Flame of Hope will be lit during a special ceremony at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 30 on the Capitol steps in Lansing with a special Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) ceremony. LETR members will then spend the next nine hours running in relay style to light the cauldron at Opening Ceremonies. Opening Ceremonies start at 6:30 p.m. at Kelly/Shorts Stadium at Central Michigan University with the Parade of athletes.

We invite you to be a cheer volunteer for Opening Ceremonies on Thursday, May 30 or during athlete competition on Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1! There is no charge for admission.


Here are some of the highlights planned for this year:


Ø  Our Presenting and Statewide Gold Medal Sponsor Spartan Stores is back for the 29th year! Spartan Stores supports athletes, provides volunteers and feeds hundreds of volunteers throughout the Games.

 Ø  A special treat this year will be a performance by American Idol 2013 contestant and Mt. Pleasant native Shubha Vedula! She will sing the National Anthem and 2-3 other songs during Opening Ceremonies! Shubha is the first Indian female in history to make it to the top 20 females of American Idol. She will also take part in the Celebrity Autograph Signing on Friday, May 31.

Ø  Biggest Loser finalist and Michigan native Jeff Nichols will also be at this year’s State Summer Games presented by Spartan Stores. Nichols finished runner-up this season, finishing one pound shy of winning the title of “Biggest Loser”. The 25-year-old Monroe native began his journey weighing 388 pounds and dropped 181 pounds during the show to finish at 207 pounds. Nichols will be at the Healthy Athletes® Village, the Celebrity Autograph Signing, and will also award medals to athletes.

Ø  The fourth annual “Rev It Up Ride” returns with motorcycle riders from all across Michigan converging on Mt. Pleasant. Many of them are members of the Michigan Moose Association but anyone is welcome to participate by paying the entry fee. The ride raises funds for Special Olympics Michigan. An autograph session will take place at Kelly/Shorts Stadium Friday, June 1 from 6:30 – 7 p.m. before the start of Closing Ceremonies.

Ø  The annual Capitol Steps Kick-off Torch Lighting Ceremony will be Thursday, May 30 at 10 a.m. on the main steps of the Capitol building in Lansing. The public is welcome to attend! Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) members will light the torch with an athlete. Then 14 LETR members will each run a five mile stretch during the next nine hours from the Capitol in Lansing to Mt. Pleasant, in relay style, leading up to Opening Ceremonies that night at 6:30 p.m.

Ø  The 2012 Inspirational Athlete of the Year Steven Doederline of Monroe will have the honor of running the last leg of the torch run in Kelly/Shorts Stadium to light the Flame of Hope at Opening Ceremonies. He will be presented with a running jacket at Closing Ceremonies from the Law Enforcement Torch Run® and become an honorary member. The 2013 Inspirational Athlete of the Year will be announced during Closing Ceremonies.

Ø  Our Spartan Stores 2012 Healthy Athlete of the Year Ben Snider from Grand Rapids will lead the Athlete Oath at Opening Ceremonies. Ben will also be present at the Celebrity Autograph Signing. He is featured on the packaging for cases of limited edition Spartan brand bottled water. The Spartan Stores 2013 Healthy Athlete of the Year will be announced during Opening Ceremonies.

Ø  We will have an athlete Prince and Princess from each of our 36 area programs. The King and Queen of the 2013 State Summer Games will be drawn from the 12-member court and announced at Closing Ceremonies.

Ø  The Healthy Athletes® Village provides free health screenings to all athletes. This year it includes Opening Eyes®, Special Smiles®, Healthy Hearing, MedFest®, Fit Feet, Health Promotions, FUNFitness, MICHIP, TRAIN and Spartan Stores “To Your Good Life.” Zumba and a rowing challenge will also be offered.

Ø  We are offering the Young Athletes™ Program on Saturday, June 1 from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in MAC I of Rose Arena. The Young Athletes™ Program introduces children ages 2-7 to Special Olympics Michigan, before they become eligible to compete at age eight.

 Ø  On Thursday, May 30 from noon – 4 p.m. Project UNIFY® will bring together unified bocce teams from Project UNIFY® Schools to participate in our first Unified Bocce tournament. Competition will be on the bocce courts. Students are empowered to be leaders in their schools and educate their peers about diversity, anti-bullying and respect. Special Olympics Project UNIFY® is a school-based project that uses sports and education programs to activate young people to develop school communities where all youth are agents of change – fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Michigan is excited to finish our 4th year with the program. This year we worked with 53 schools throughout Michigan and had over 4,000 students participate in the program.

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