Athletes competing in this 50th year of the Iowa Special Olympics walk into Hilton Coliseum during the opening ceremony May 17. This is the 34th time Ames has hosted the Iowa Special Olympics.

Parking lots and roads near Iowa State's campus will close for the annual Special Olympics beginning Thursday. The games kick off 7 p.m. Thursday with the opening ceremony in Hilton Coliseum and continue through Sunday. 

Beach Road from Lincoln Way to the Ames Power Plant will be closed 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. South Fourth Street from Beach Road to the west end of Jack Trice Stadium parking lots will be closed on 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday.

The parking lots for Beyer Hall, Forker Building, Lied Center, Maple-Willow-Larch and Richardson Court residence areas will be closed all day Thursday and Friday. Commuter parking will move to Jack Trice Stadium parking lots and CyRide will stop at lots S3, S4 and S5.

Beyer Hall, Forker building and courts, Lied center and fields and Maple-Willow-Larch recreation fields will all be used as venues to hold the sports competitions, including bocce, soccer, tennis, swimming, cycling and track and field. Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center will be used as alternate location in the case of rain.

The Special Olympics is a non-profit sports organization which allows adults and children with intellectual abilities to compete in Olympic-like sports. It provides year-round training and competition to 5 million athletes. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, an American philanthropist and member of the Kennedy family, founded the Special Olympics after witnessing the maltreatment towards those with intellectual disabilities.

In Iowa, the Special Olympics counters intolerance towards people with intellectual disabilities through empowerment. It focuses on strengthening courage, friendships and physical fitness in its training. The Special Olympics also emphasizes joy and inclusion for its athletes.

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