Special Olympics 2010 USA National Games
The 2010 Special Olympics competition that was held in Lincoln was a success for both all of the participants as well as the state of Nebraska. With the majority of the events being held on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the athletic competition was the largest ever held in the state. Similar to the standard Olympic competition that occurs in worldwide locations, the Special Olympics are only held every four years, making it a source of much anticipation and prestige for the athletes that will compete and try to win gold medals. With the 2010 Special Olympics, the winners were not only those that took home the gold, but also everyone that participated and helped to make the overall event a success.
Companies and organizations in Nebraska produced a wealth of volunteer effort to support the festivities and competitions. Over 100 businesses donated employee time to be away from work and volunteer what amounted to 7500 days of labor for the 2010 Special Olympics and all of the administration help that was needed to prepare for the event. In addition, many students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln worked in many different functions to make sure that the Special Olympics competition went off without any major issues. The 2010 competition kicked off with a group of law enforcement officers from the state carrying the flame through a total of 70 different communities in the state and finishing on July 18 when the Flame of Hope arrived to Lincoln for the opening ceremony of the event.
One area of the Olympics games 2010 program that is often overshadowed by the competitions is the Healthy Athletes program that is organized by the Special Olympics committee. Not only occurring at the actual USA National Games competition, the Healthy Athletes service gives athletes from all over the world free screenings and access to health information that will increase their athletic performance. Because some areas of the world have poor health services, especially for people with disabilities, this service is extremely valuable to participants. During the Olympics games 2010 competitions, medical students from UNL and local physicians worked together to give the athletes adequate medical attention.
Even though USA National Games for handicapped athletes are sometimes overlooked in favor of professional sporting leagues like the NFL or MLB, this type of competition for athletes with disadvantages is growing in recognition. With each year, the USA National games for handicapped athletes grows both in the number of participants and the fan attendance to support the events. The local community was rewarded for their support with an estimated $40 million in economic revenue from the events and tourism. The 2010 Special Olympics represented the height of these games, with a record number of almost 3000 athletes and countless fans that attended the competitions.