“Hosting the Special Olympics USA National Games is about making an impact,” said Tim Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman and CEO.
“It’s about impacting the local and state economies that will reap the benefits of having an estimated influx of 80,000 athletes, guests, families and fans staying at hotels, eating in restaurants and shopping in local stores while experiencing the great state of New Jersey. But the most important impact will be the legacy of courage, inclusion and respect that will be left behind long after 2014 Closing Ceremony. To be able to break down barriers and play together…THAT is big business.”
The 2014 Games will be held in Princeton, New Jersey, 13 to 21 June 2014. The news came at a press conference sponsored by the New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center, the location of the 2014 Opening Ceremony. In making the announcement, Special Olympics New Jersey President Marc Edenzon said his state “is in an excellent position to provide an extraordinary opportunity for acceptance.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie then took the stage and thanked the Special Olympics Selection Committee for choosing New Jersey, noting, “this event will place a spotlight on what makes New Jersey the greatest: the human spirit.”
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. An estimated 40,000 Special Olympics events take place every day, from China and the Middle East, to community playgrounds and ball fields all around the world.
The 2014 Games will feature an estimated 3,500 athletes competing in 14 Olympic-style sports, with the support of 1,000 coaches and 8,000 volunteers. Non-competitive special events will include the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® that will symbolize the start of the competition and Healthy Athletes, a place where the athletes can get vital health screenings. Youth and education events will also be held in conjunction with the Games as young leaders rally around making change for the better of the Special Olympics Movement and promoting acceptance of those with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics New Jersey athletes presented Governor Christie with his own jersey bearing the number 1. This gesture was a stand-out moment of the day and exhibited both New Jersey’s and Special Olympics’ gratitude, excitement and collaborative spirit around the 2014 Games.
Among other projections announced was the great economic benefit to the state, which could top $50 million.
After the press conference, guests were invited to stay and enjoy the reception. TLC’s “Cake Boss,” Buddy Valastro, was on hand to present a commemorative cake and celebrate the Games coming to his home state. Surrounded by Special Olympics New Jersey athletes, he took the microphone and thanked everyone for being a part of the movement and wished all the athletes luck in 2014.