Special Olympics Leaving Town

1 decade 11 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, June 05 2007 Jun 5, 2007 Tuesday, June 05, 2007 1:40:31 PM CDT June 05, 2007 in News

It was a bittersweet moment for some parents as their children kicked off this year's Special Olympic Summer Games at Hinkson Field in Columbia. For the past six years, Columbia has hosted the games, but that's about to change.

The Columbia tradition will now be moving to Fort Leonard Wood.  One athlete was just excited to get out and play.

"I like soccer pretty good," said athlete Andy Martinez. "Plus, I'm going to be shagging balls for this team here."

After six years, some parents, including Andy's mom, will miss Columbia.

"Mizzou has been a wonderful place to be," said Andy's mom. "They have always so hospitable, and we enjoyed being here, so there's going to be some angst when we leave."

Regardless of where they are played, the Special Olympics are about the athletes and the friends they make.

"We have such an enormous extended family with these folks it's not just one child, we've got 50 children," said Andy's mom. "And one of the things we especially enjoy about the Special Olympics experience is the fun that these folks have, it is true innocent fun, just pure joy."

Officials say they like to move the games every few years.

"We like to move our events around the state just to give everyone an opportunity, with the volunteers and athletes seeing all the state," said official Jeremie Ballinger.  "We are just grateful to all the volunteers and people in Columbia that set it up and have been a kind host to us for the past six years."

The athletes say they'll be looking forward to next year regardless of where the games are played.  The games will continue through Wednesday.

You can check out a complete list of the games and times through the links on this page.

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