Sunday, July 1 began with breakfast, similar to yesterday’s; french toast, eggs, sausage, and fruits. Once breakfast was over some teams went to their respective coaches meeting for their specific sport. Everyone else headed back to the dorms and relaxed a bit before the big event, opening ceremonies.
Once breakfast was over, some teams went to their respective coaches meeting for their specific sport. Everyone else headed back to the dorms and relaxed a bit before the big event, opening ceremonies. Athletes, partners, and coaches changed into their opening ceremony outfit and lined up in the hallway according to their sport. Once everyone was lined up and accounted for, Team Missouri left the dorm and walked across campus in a light drizzle chanting the team cheer for competing teams and passers-by to hear.
On our way to the staging area, Alaska Airlines Arena, hundreds of people lined both sides of the pathway cheering us on. They all held signs of good luck and extended their hands for a high five. The closer we got, we spotted several family members of Team Missouri athletes among the crowd making their allegiance known. Seeing family and friends from home brought the energy level up another notch without a doubt. Once we had finished the route through walls of cheering fans, we were inside Alaska Airlines Arena. We were greeted by dozens of Starbucks employees in green aprons handing out boxed lunches and waters. Each state was guided to a section of bleachers where we’d finish our lunch and watch the Special Olympic cheer team begin pumping up the crowd.
Guest appearances were made by Mike Pereira, the Seattle Seahawks dance team, and WWE stars Mark Henry and Charlotte Flair. The biggest cheers were generated by the WWE stars. With the crowd’s energy high it was time for each state to begin lining up for the opening ceremony procession. States were promptly lined up in alphabetical order and sent through the tunnel leading to the open air University of Washington Husky Stadium. The timeliness of the procession was crucial due to the event being aired live on national television. The weather could not have been better. It was sunny and low to mid 70s. Once all the states were seated, the ceremony began. Special appearances were made by Maddie Poppe (the winner of season 16 of American Idol), Loretta Claiborne, and musicians Allen Stone and Charlie Puth.
Team Missouri’s very own coach Bea Webb gave a brief presentation about her involvement with Special Olympics. Coach Bea’s speech was followed by a special video presentation featuring Special Olympic Missouri athlete Arthur Murphy. There was an emphasis on inclusion and being the change you want to see in the world throughout the event. The athletes seemed to be empowered and motivated to start the games. Soon enough, the torch run concluded inside the stadium and the flame of hope was lit, signifying the official opening of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.