GAMES ON: Special Olympics Alabama State Games begin in Troy

Published 3:01 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

Over 1,000 Olympic athletes arrived in Troy Friday for the start of the Special Olympic Alabama State Games.

The day got started with the arrival of law enforcement officers from across the state making their way to Troy with the “Flame of Hope.”

Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run coordinator Debbie Sumerall said the torch run began in Kansas in 1986 when officers realized nobody was carrying the eternal flame. “It spread from there,” she said.

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Two teams started the run Thursday– one in Huntsville and one in Irondale– and then met in Gardendale before ending the day in Birmingham. The run picked up Friday in Pelham and made a stop in Montgomery before heading to the Troy Police Department for the final leg.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this special event,” said Troy Police Chief Randall Barr. The group then made it’s way up South Brundidge Street and down University Avenue.

A few hours later at the opening ceremonies, athlete of the year David Hodges and Dep. Cody Locke of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office together lit the massive torch to mark the start of the games.

“It’s an honor,” said Hodges, a swimmer out of Gadsden. “It’s my first time carrying the torch so I’m excited.”

“I’m excited just to be seeing the faces,” Locke said. “I’ve been involved with the Special Olympics for over 3 years but this is my first time carrying the torch out. It’s a great privilege.”

Teams from all over the state had proudly made their entrances to the games just prior to the torch being brought in, carrying their banners and dancing and giving thumbs ups to the crowd.

Elvis tribute artist Scot Bruce also returned to sing the National Anthem Friday and will be performing for the “Victory Dance” concert Saturday night in Trojan Arena after closing ceremonies.

“What an honor it is to be invited back here to celebrate your victories and the music Elvis left us,” Bruce said.

The crowd of athletes that had gathered had a bit of extra cheer when Scot took the microphone.

Bruce wasn’t the only entertainment for the night though.

The “Sound of Joy” band made entirely of special musicians performed “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “Lean on Me,” and “God Bless the USA.”

Kyle George, associate athletic director for marketing and sales, gave the athletes their big hype speech and officially opened the games.

The games get started this morning at 9 a.m. with several different sports and games across a variety of locations.

The Troy recreation Center will host aquatics and gymnastics.

The Pike County Cattlemen’s Arena will hold the equestrian games.

The golf tournament will be played at the Troy Country Club while the golf skills challenge will take place at the Troy University Golf Course.

Troy University will host Bocce at Sartain Hall, track and field at the Trojan Track and softball at the Trojan Softball Field.

Cycling will be held on the Peanut Festival Grounds and bowling at the Brunswick Zone.

The closing ceremonies will begin at 6 p.m. tonight with Scot Bruce’s “Victory Dance” following immediately afterwards.

The final event of the games will be an exhibition baseball game beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Riddle Pace Field.

This is the 11th annual state games to be held at Troy University.