EWING, NJ – From Friday, June 7, to Sunday, June 9, nearly 2,500 athletes will participate in the annual Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) Summer Games. At Summer Games - the culminating competition event of the Summer sports season for SONJ - athletes will compete in bocce, gymnastics, powerlifting, softball, swimming, tennis, and track & field.
There are six local students from Brett DiNovi and Associates competing on Team Silver Surfers representing our area. Southern Regional Alum Jacob Parker will be competing this weekend running the 100 meter and the 4 x 100 relay. Jacob will be joined by Southern students Robin Close and Mark Mower. The players continue to practice locally at Southern Regional High School and Main Street Alliance. Coaches Mark Cummins and Erin Coxen are excited to see all the hard work in preparation rewarded this weekend.
Competitions will take place at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Armstrong Memorial Park, and Schafer Sports Center in Ewing. Athletes from all across the state have been training hard and competing at the local and regional level in these seven sports over the past few months, earning the opportunity to compete at Summer Games.
“Summer Games is our marquee event of the year, highlighting all the hard work and dedication countless athletes, coaches, parents, and volunteers have put in to get to this point. This will be an unforgettable experience for us all,” said Heather Andersen, President and CEO of SONJ. “While this weekend will be a lot of fun, our athletes are here to compete and will showcase their abilities on a bigger stage, proving they truly are serious competitors and champions.”
The weekend’s festivities kick-off during the day on Friday at the SONJ Sports Complex, when local school students, with and without disabilities, take part in a Youth Summit to learn sports and leadership skills and discuss the power of inclusion.
There will also be a Unified Game Day at TCNJ, where athletes with and without disabilities will come together to compete alongside each other in various sports. On Friday evening, all are welcome to attend SONJ’s signature kick-off to Summer Games, Opening Ceremony, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Lions Stadium at TCNJ.
The ceremony will include a Parade of Athletes marching into the stadium, joined by some of our most loyal supporters, including numerous Law Enforcement officers. After the Parade of Athletes, select law enforcement officers and athletes will run with the Flame of Hope to light the cauldron, followed by a live broadcast by NJ 101.5’s Big Joe Henry, special appearance by SONJ athlete, DJ Redline, and a spectacular fireworks display.
Competitions will take place throughout the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the various venues and spectators are encouraged to attend to cheer on the athletes as they compete. In addition to competition, Young Athletes™ will host developmental sports activities and a Future Stars Track Race for children ages 2-7 with intellectual disabilities; Healthy Athletes will offer athletes the opportunity to meet with healthcare professionals in vision, dental, hearing, podiatry, and health education, and can receive a concussion baseline screening; and athletes will have access to the Olympic Village and Athlete Experience, both of which offer fun activities for the athletes when they are not competing. All the weekend’s events are completely FREE of charge to the athletes who compete, including food, housing, entertainment and health screenings.
The 2019 SONJ Summer Games are greatly supported by Wakefern Food Corp./ShopRite, which donates lunch for everyone in attendance. For a detailed event schedule, including a listing of all athletes who will compete, visit. https://www.sonj.org/events/2019-summer-games/.
Following the 2019 SONJ Summer Games, photos will be available to download at https://www.flickr.com/photos/sonewjersey/albums.
ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS NEW JERSEY: For the past 50 years, Special Olympics New Jersey has provided year-round sports training and athletic competition in 24 Olympic-type sports for more than 25,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, completely free of charge. Through the joy and power of sports, athletes are provided opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Visit www.sonj.org for more information.