Special Olympics Missouri's State Summer Games are to be held in Columbia for the next three years.
Springfield has hosted the games for the past five years, according to a Special Olympics Missouri news release Monday. Organizers canceled this year's games in Springfield after the May 22 tornado struck Jefferson City, heavily damaging the $18.5 million SOMO Training for Life Campus, which opened six months earlier.
The summer games were scheduled to begin a little over a week later. Citing the disruption in SOMO organization (its headquarters were in the campus) and a long-range forecast for severe weather during the summer games, SOMO canceled the event.
Jefferson City did not submit a bid package to host the State Summer Games because the city already hosts the State Outdoor Games during the fall, Brandon Schatsiek, SOMO multimedia and athletic leadership manager, said in an email to the News Tribune.
Columbia had hosted the games for the three years prior to their move to Springfield.
More than 1,700 athletes — with their families and friends — are expected to participate in the annual event in Columbia, which is to be held June 5-7, 2020.
SOMO was "very happy" with the support it received and how the games were held in Columbia, so it was excited to bring the games back to Columbia, Trish Lutz, SOMO vice president of programs, said in SOMO's news release.
The games feature volleyball, track and field, swimming, soccer, and powerlifting. Competition will include traditional games, games that bring together people of similar ages and athletic abilities, regardless of intellectual disabilities, to improve team and individual skills, according to the news release.
About 800 volunteers will be needed for the annual competitions in Columbia. Anyone interested in volunteering should email Kami Delameter at [email protected]
Sponsorships are available by emailing Brian Neuner at [email protected] or by calling 573-635-1660.
Multiple competitions during the State Outdoor Games, held late last month, had been planned for the Training for Life Campus in Jefferson City. However, with repairs still underway, events were moved to other locations within Jefferson City.
The summer games were never intended to be held at the Jefferson City campus, Schatsiek said.
"The Training for Life Campus was created with the sole purpose of hosting trainings," he said, "not competitions."
This article was updated at 4:15 p.m. Oct. 7, 2019, with additional details.