Brandon's Blog: Special Olympics Touches All Involved

May 11, 2013

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

The University of Michigan Athletic Department is proud to have more than 900 of the best student-athletes in the world representing us in collegiate competition each year. On Tuesday (May 14) at the Saline High School track, the U-M Athletic Department will support 250 new athletes as we partner with Special Olympics of Michigan for their Annual Spring Games.

More than 80 of our department team members plus numerous other local volunteers will gather to give these special young people the opportunity to take part in this very significant competition.

This event isn't just for the athletes who will compete. This is an important event for the families and friends of the children with disabilities who will display their courage and competitiveness on Tuesday.

When most of these children were first born, their families had no idea how much their lives would change. They still had their hopes and dreams, but they must have also had to deal with the uncertainty and concern that resulted from their child's health challenges.

Special Olympics does more than fill a void for those participating in the athletic events, it reminds their family members of their hopes and dreams.

Athletic competition bolsters confidence and develops social skills. Sports help build relationships as athletes become a member of a team and learn their role to make the team successful.

In many ways, Special Olympics plays an even a more valuable role than the typical sports competitions we follow. These children will gain much-needed cognitive and gross motor skills and many other skills many of us take for granted.

Special Olympics does more than sponsor events for the competitors and their families. They create awareness, they promote the need for volunteerism, they provide a way for us all to give back to our community, and when you leave any of their events you feel good.

Athletics play a significant role in so many of our lives. The opportunity to give these special needs children a chance for sports to play a role in their lives is important and impactful.

If you enjoy sports -- and want to really experience what sports can do to change lives -- I invite you to stop by the Saline Track between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday and learn what Special Olympics is all about.

Cheer on the Special Olympians as they compete with the determination and desire that makes attending athletic events so much fun.

It doesn't matter if 500 or 110,000 fans are in attendance; sports connect us in a special way. Do your best to spend some time at the Saline Track on Tuesday!!

'Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt' is the oath of the Special Olympics.

It is a simple statement with a profound meaning.

Good luck to all the Special Olympians!

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