Oklahoma Special Olympics Kicks Off With Basketball Tournament

Saturday, November 3rd 2018, 9:19 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma Special Olympics began Saturday and many teams from the Oklahoma City area competed. 

250 Special Olympic athletes showed stamina, drive and determination during the regional basketball tournament. 

Special Olympics Oklahoma benefits over 11 thousand athletes, and they're supported by almost two thousand volunteer coaches. 

35 teams gathered in Oklahoma City as the Special Olympics Regional Basketball Tournament took place at the Santa Fe Family Life Center. 

"Days like this are so important to them. They train, these athletes train year around, and to be able to come and play against other teams, and have fun, and that's what it's all about," said Gary Henderson, Volunteer Director of Capitol Area Special Olympics. 

The event was hosted free of charge to the Special Olympics, and admission was free to all who attended.

The referees and staff that participated were volunteers. 

"Here at Santa Fe Family Life Center, our mission is to serve individuals with disabilities and disadvantaged youth. And do that through sport and fitness activities. So this is really a perfect fit with our mission," said James Timberlake, Executive Director at Santa Fe Family Life Center. 

Each team was guaranteed two games, and all athletes received a ribbon, regardless of placement in the tournament. 

"What they will do from here, they will go on to the winter games and or the summer games, which are held later next year," said Henderson. 

Special Olympics Oklahoma is broken up into 14 geographic areas throughout the state. 

Oklahoma County's area, known as the Capitol Area, will be hosting their annual family Christmas party next month.