Special Olympics Pennsylvania cancels Summer Games but hopes to capture spirit virtually

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
The Special Olympics of Pennsylvania hold the opening ceremony for the 39th annual Spring Games on  Saturday, May 4, 2019. The 2020 Special Olympics of Pennsylvania Summer Games have been canceled.
John A. Pavoncello photo

The Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games won’t be taking place on Penn State’s campus this year but organizers hope the spirit of the games will continue virtually.

The Summer Games, which were scheduled June 11-13, were canceled Thursday due to concerns about the coronavirus. Organizers hope to instead launch a virtual games. The “Be a Fan” torch run, a three-day event before the games that spans Pittsburgh to State College, was canceled as well.

“While it is heartbreaking to announce this decision to cancel the torch run and Summer Games,” Special Olympics Pennsylvania President and CEO Matthew Aaron said in a news release, “our hope is to capture the spirit of our athletes and volunteers via the virtual Summer Games.”

The Summer Games typically draw more than 2,000 athletes, 750 coaches and more than 1,000 volunteers from across the state. Penn State had hosted the event for 32 consecutive years, and the games are expected to return to campus in 2021.

“Penn State University and our entire community always look forward to hosting the amazing Special Olympics athletes and their coaches, volunteers and guests each June. We will miss them and their families this year,” President Eric Barron said in a written statement. “But, we all look forward to the day when we can welcome everyone back to campus again.”

The Summer Games aren’t the only Special Olympics Pennsylvania event to go virtual. Participants in the Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run can take part in the 3.1-mile run and 2-mile family fun walk virtually this week or at 11 a.m. Sunday when the livestream begins. For more details, visit www.stadiumrun.org.