The 2014 Special Olympics national games will be taking place in New Jersey for the first time. The state will now be able to host more than 3,500 athletes and tens of thousands of volunteers, family members and spectators during the week-long event.
The Lawrence-based Special Olympics New Jersey lobbied for the national games to be held in their own backyard. Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said the Special Olympics will be the county’s first national event of this magnitude, and he expects that organizers and visitors will use every hotel room, restaurant table and athletic field in the area.
NJ.com reports the right to host the games had been sought by a number of Special Olympics organizations including those in Kansas and in Massachusetts, the home of the late Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
The event could prove a boon to area hotels and restaurants as tens of thousands of people converge on the greater Trenton area for a week from June 14 to 21 in 2014.
NorthJersey.com reports most of the competition is to be held at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, which is also where an Olympic village is to be set up.
The opening ceremonies will be held in Newark at the Prudential Center.
According to specialolympics.org, the global Special Olympics movement got its start on July 20, 1968, when the First International Special Olympics Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. But the concept of Special Olympics was born much earlier when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for people with intellectual disabilities at her home in 1962.
The First International Special Olympics Games hosted 1,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 26 U.S. states and Canada competing in athletics, floor hockey and aquatics.
A formal announcement about the awarding of the games is scheduled for March 15 at the Prudential Center in Newark.