Special Olympics tourney begins Friday in Esky

ESCANABA – The 2014 Special Olympics Michigan District Basketball Tournament will begin Friday and continue through Saturday at Escanaba High School, according to organizers of the event.

Participants from all across the Upper Peninsula are expected to attend, according to Dorothy Kollmann, Special Olympics chairperson for the Escanaba Noon Kiwanis Club. Male and female athletes of various abilities, ages 16 and up, will compete in the basketball tournament.

“We are anticipating around 275 people, including athletes, coaches, and chaperones,” she said.

The Kiwanis Club has sponsored the event for more than 37 years, she noted. A number of other volunteers have also agreed to assist in this year’s tournament.

Registration and dinner for participants begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Escanaba High School, with opening ceremonies for the tournament scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Legislative representatives and Escanaba Mayor Marc Tall are expected at the opening ceremonies.

The games will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m., with a dance scheduled to follow from 7 to 9 p.m.

The competitions continue Saturday morning beginning at 8:30 a.m. with lunch served at 11 a.m. The closing ceremonies will take place around 2 p.m. Teams will receive medals and ribbons and top qualifiers will be able to compete downstate.

Special Olympics Michigan provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for almost 22,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Athletes build physical fitness, develop self-confidence and prepare for participation in community sports programs.

The public is invited to attend. There is no cost for admission and concessions will be available Friday evening and all day Saturday.