Indianapolis, IN — Engaging athletes, volunteers, and supporters across the state who are unable to gather for in-person competition or events due to ongoing health and safety concerns, Special Olympics Indiana’s 2020 Summer Games: Sports and Fitness Challenge will be held virtually from June 13 to July 25. The extended at-home challenge is presented as an alternative to the 2020 Indiana Summer Games originally planned for the weekend of June 12 – 14 on the campuses of Indiana State University and Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute.“Special Olympics Indiana exists to provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to experience the thrill of competition, the joy of inclusion, and the satisfaction of using their abilities to the fullest potential—both on the playing field and off,” said Jeff Mohler, president and CEO of Special Olympics Indiana. “This pandemic has caused our athletes to miss out on many of those experiences for the past three months. And though we are working toward a return to in-person activities as soon as it’s deemed safe, we believe this virtual Summer Games challenge will encourage athletes to stay active while providing something that we all need right now: hope for the future.” The Indiana Summer Games is the organization’s largest annual event, drawing nearly 3,000 athletes and several thousand coaches, volunteers, Unified partners, and supporters to Terre Haute each June for three days of state finals competition in eight Olympic-type sports. But with all in-person events suspended through June 30, this year’s Sports & Fitness Challenge will instead invite participants and teams representing Special Olympics Indiana’s county programs to be “Unified by Hope” while completing daily challenges in adapted versions of typical Summer Games events and other activities to earn points throughout the summer. Challenges will feature activities that athletes can do at home, in their neighborhoods, or in parks or other public areas as allowed and while maintaining social distancing protocols. Elements of track and field, bocce, volleyball, basketball, soccer, nutrition, mental health, and general health and fitness will be incorporated. Over one hundred participants from the Ripley, Ohio and Dearborn Counties’ program have signed up to participate in the at-home challenges. Awards will be presented to top performers across the state during a Closing Ceremonies and virtual dance party scheduled for Saturday, July 25. The Closing Ceremonies will be streamed on the organization’s website and Facebook page. Local athletes from Ripley, Ohio and Dearborn Counties will also receive a “Unified by Hope” t-shirt as an incentive for participating. The local program is currently seeking sponsorships to cover the cost of the t-shirts and as a fundraiser, since several of their fundraisers, including their annual Fire Truck Pull, have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses, organizations, or individuals interested in sponsoring may contact County Program Coordinator, Greg Townsend at (812) 584-6861 or [email protected] More information about the 2020 Summer Games: Sports & Fitness Challenge, the Flame of Hope Torch Run, and the virtual Opening Ceremonies or Closing Ceremonies can be found at soindiana.org/hope.