Special Olympics Texas announced on Monday that San Antonio will host the 2019 Summer Games for more than 3,000 athletes from across the state.
Hosted by Morgan’s Wonderland, the 50th annual Summer Games will include track and field, cycling, gymnastics, soccer, and tennis competitions held at area venues, including Toyota Field and the South Texas Area Regional Soccer Complex, which are adjacent to Morgan's Wonderland in Northeast San Antonio.
The four-day event will take place from May 2-5, 2019, and is free and open to the public.
Tim Martin, president and CEO of Special Olympics Texas, said that in addition to the more than 3,000 participating athletes, the event will bring more than 800 coaches and 3,000 volunteers to San Antonio.
“These athletes have been training for their sport for a minimum of 12 weeks," he said. "This event is always open to the public, and we want you here. You need to see our athletes and what they are capable of.”
While San Antonio has the most Special Olympics athletes in the state, it is the first time the city has hosted the four-day event, said Gordon Hartman, founder of the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, which is sponsoring the event with support from Special Olympics Texas.
“This is a special honor because it highlights what San Antonio is known for," he said. "We are a city that is compassionate, considerate, and has compassion for special-needs individuals.”
Hartman's foundation also was the driving force behind Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park designed to be fully accessible to people with special needs.
Health screenings for participants will be provided by the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletonUSA (CRIT), a comprehensive treatment facility for children with neurological and musculoskeletal disorders located near Morgan’s Wonderland.
CRIT Director Federica Soriano said that 2019 will be the first year that Special Olympics Texas will conduct its health screenings at a medical facility. Athletes will meet with medical professionals in a designated facility rather than a makeshift screening room on the event grounds, she said.
“We are very happy not only to serve these athletes, but we also have people working here who know what they are doing,” Soriano said. “When working with [people with special needs], you get better results when you put your heart into it, and we know how to work with them.”