NORMAL, IL- The commencement of the largest, most innovative and inspirational national event to be held in the history of the Special Olympics in the United States is less than one month away. Nearly 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from throughout the United States, including Illinois, will travel to New Jersey to compete before tens of thousands of spectators and volunteers.

Special Olympics Illinois will be sending a delegation of 53 athletes, 6 Unified Partners and 17 coaches to New Jersey. These athletes will compete in aquatics, athletics, bocce, bowling, powerlifting, traditional and Unified golf, artistic gymnastics, volleyball and Unified soccer. Unified sports combine equal numbers of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team. See a complete list of Team Illinois members at http://www.soill.org/ai1ec_event/special-olympics-usa-games/.

From 16 different sports competitions in some of the top sports venues in the state including Princeton University to the creation of a Jersey Shore-themed Olympic Town complete with boardwalk for the athletes, the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games will showcase the achievements and determination of Special Olympics athletes nationwide. In addition to Princeton University, sports competition will be held at venues throughout Mercer County, New Jersey, including Rider University, The College of New Jersey, Mercer County Park and several area private schools. Special Olympics athletes will participate in spectacular Special Events from the moment they arrive including New Jersey Welcome Day, Opening Ceremony at Prudential Center, boat cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, Sports Showcases and the Closing Ceremony at Sun National Bank Center.

“Special Olympics changes lives. Special Olympics changes the lives of those who participate, of those who are affiliated via coaching or volunteering and of those whose perceptions are altered after witnessing the remarkable talents of individuals with intellectual disabilities,” said TJ Nelligan, Chairman & CEO of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. “This labor of love of planning the 2014 USA Games for the past four years has been a privilege. With less than a month to go, we are excited to see the reactions of the nearly 3,500 athletes who will travel to New Jersey for this life-changing event and the anticipated 70,000 spectators who will truly appreciate the impact these athletes make on those around them and to society as a whole.”

“The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games would not be possible without the support of both national and New Jersey-based companies, especially our Founding Partners 21st Century Fox, Barnabas Health, HESS, KPMG, Prudential, PSE&G, Shop Rite, Toys“R”Us and WWE,” added Nelligan. “All of these companies have been working tirelessly on our behalf and are committed to using their resources to promote the 2014 USA Games and the transformative power of sports to educate others about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.”

Special Olympics Illinois would like to thank the following companies for their sponsorship of Team Illinois: Cessna, Comcast SportsNet, Durham School Services and Alpha Factor.

About the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games
The Special Olympics USA Games will be hosted by New Jersey June 14-21, 2014. Nearly 3,500 athletes will compete in 16 Olympic-style team and individual sports, with the support of 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers and 70,000 family, friends and spectators. The Special Olympics USA Games will celebrate the Special Olympics movement, promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport and showcase athletes from throughout the U.S. and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. The 2014 USA Games will also highlight Special Olympics’ work in sport, education, health and communities. Founding partners for the 2014 Special Olympic USA Games include 21st Century Fox, Barnabas Health, HESS, KPMG, Prudential, PSE&G, Shop Rite, Toys ‘R’ Us and WWE. Learn more about the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games at www.2014specialolympics.org and follow the Games on Facebook at Facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsUSAGames and Twitter @2014USAGames.

About Special Olympics Illinois
Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 19 sports for nearly 21,500 Traditional Athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 18,500 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support. If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562 or visit our website at www.soill.org.
Want to get involved in Special Olympics Illinois? If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an athlete, volunteer or coach please visit www.soill.org