News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 5, 2010

Record-setting Special Olympics gets under way

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Those rumblings through your floorboards weren’t earthquake tremors Friday night, rather the vibration of a record-busting Special Olympics program inside Hulman Center’s arena.

With 2,700 participants, more than 1,000 coaches and 900 volunteers, the 2010 Special Olympics Indiana Summer Games packed the house for opening ceremonies.

“That’s the most we’ve ever had at Summer Games,” Special Olympics Indiana organizer Amanda Shelley said as workers readied for the parade.

Indiana State University actually ran out of housing and a number of participants will spend the weekend at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, she said, noting the 41st annual games are officially the largest now with 58 delegations representing 68 Hoosier counties.

Representatives from state and federal law enforcement ran the torch through town Friday afternoon, while athletes in for the three-day tournament and got a few games in before the 7 p.m. opening ceremonies.

Brad Stevens, head coach for the Butler University men’s basketball team, serves as this year’s Honorary Chair for the games. This year Stevens led his team to a 33-5 overall record and a national runner-up finish in the NCAA, and he was recently named Horizon League Coach of the Year and NACB All-District 12 Coach.

But as the ceremonies got under way, Stevens told the arena full of stomping sports fans that their energy rivaled that of Lucas Oil Stadium the night of the Final Four Championship game.

“I want to tell you how much admiration I have for you, and for just how much it takes to be a great competitor,” Stevens said. Doing your best and taking “nothing back to the locker room” is what makes a great competitor, regardless of league or division, he said. “You’re a great inspiration.”

Entertainment was provided by the Indy Air Bears, an acrobatic jump rope team, as well as indoor kite flyers. But the big attraction was the annual dance out on the floor with music provided by 100.7 Mix FM.

“The athletes love music and they love the chance to dance,” Shelley said.

Outside the arena, volunteer Ronelle Linneweber was hanging out with two of her athletes, Laura Parker and Dustin Chamberlin, all of Vincennes.

“This is just a wonderful event,” Linneweber said, noting 2010 is her second year participating.

Parker, who will compete in the 400 meter and softball throw, is also in her second year, while Chamberlin, who will run the 100 meter and 400 dashes, perform the standing long jump and softball throw, is in his first year.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Chamberlin said.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.