Special Olympics Missouri has become a permanent part of Travis Mankin's life.
The 45-year-old has been a Special Olympics athlete since he was 10, when he began participating in track and field.
In this year's 2013 State Summer Games, today through Sunday, Mankin is playing on a volleyball team and competing in track and field events, including running and shot put.
He will participate in a golf competition during the fall games.
"I love playing in Special Olympics," said Mankin of Jefferson City. "It helps others get involved, too."
Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics in 1968 with the goal of giving people with intellectual disabilities a chance to reap the benefits of participating in sports. Missouri Special Olympics officially became a nonprofit in 1971.
Missouri's first State Summer Games were held in 1975 at Fort Leonard Wood.
This year's State Summer Games are in Columbia.
Mankin is team captain of his volleyball team, which will compete Friday in the games.
He said that even though he's team captain, he had no say in his team name, "Bling It."
"There's about four or five girls and they came up with that," Mankin said. "I had no vote."
But, he said he doesn't mind the name, or the bright pink team shirts. He and his teammates have become best friends and they just want to have fun.
"The other part is trying to tell people about Special Olympics as much as we can," Mankin said.
He will compete in track and field events Saturday.
Special Olympics training doesn't consume all of Mankin's time.
"I work at Oscar's (Classic) Diner with my brother, the owner," he said. "And, I help out my mom as much as I can when I'm around."
He said he wants to encourage more people to join Special Olympics because it doesn't only benefit athletes, but the parents as well.
"My mom and family are part of this deal and I want them to feel like it," Mankin said. "Coaches should feel honored, too."
He said he's proud to be a part of Special Olympics.
"Whatever I can do to help, I will do it," he said.
For a schedule of the State Summer Games or for more information about Special Olympics Missouri, visit somo.org.