Southern Wesleyan University will be hosting Area 14 Special Olympics on Wednesday, April 6, at the Joe R. Gilbert Track and Field on the Central, S.C., campus.

The surrounding community is invited to join SWU faculty, staff, students, and friends for this event, being held for the first time at the university. Spectators are welcome, and admission is free to the public.

Volunteer opportunities are also available.

Area 14’s Special Olympics started 40 years ago and encompasses all of Anderson County. Gloria Byrd and Suzanne McMahan are co-area directors and have been for the past 35 years. Today, Area 14 has more than a thousand athletes who train in Special Olympic events and over 500 athletes who train and compete. Districts 1-4 of Region 14, comprising of 400 athletes, will compete at Southern Wesleyan.

Area 14 offers five different sports for athletes to train and compete in year- round; bocce, tennis, swimming, bowling, and track and field events.

This will be Area 14’s 38th year hosting Spring Games. The Spring Games gives school-aged children across five districts the opportunity to showcase their track and field talents. Events that athletes can participate in include but are not limited to; standing long jump, softball and tennis ball throw, 100-meter walk and run, 50-meter walk and run, 50- and 100-meter assisted walk and run, wheelchair races, and 200-meter and 400-meter runs. Special Olympics also has a group called Young Athletes for those athletes under the age of 8 who would still like to participate in activities such as bowling, bean bag toss, tennis ball throw and several other events.

Area 14 Special Olympics provides year-round athletic training and competition in a variety of well coached Olympic type sports for all individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities by providing them with continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, express courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills, and friendships with their families and the community.

Special Olympics contributes to the social and psychological development of people with physical and intellectual challenges. Through successful experiences in sports, athletes gain confidence and build a positive self-image, which carries over into the classroom, the job, and the community.