Rockford embraces Special Olympics Michigan State Basketball Finals

More than 1,000 athletes, coaches, chaperones expected to attend

The Special Olympics Michigan 2011 State Basketball Finals will take place March 25-26 at Rockford Public Schools. This two-day competition will draw more than 1,000 athletes, coaches and chaperones from throughout Michigan. Approximately 350 volunteers coordinated by the Grand Rapids Jaycees will also be on hand providing support, encouragement and cheers. This year marks the 30th anniversary the Grand Rapids Jaycees have been the host committee for this competition.

Rockford Public Schools (RPS) has joined forces with HEART of Rockford Business Association, City of Rockford, and Rockford Chamber of Commerce to roll out the red carpet for the athletes, coaches, organizers and supporters. Each athlete will receive a welcome bag from HEART when registering, filled with free gifts and information about Rockford’s year-round offerings and activities. The organizations also will be providing complimentary round-trip shuttle service to the Welcome Center in downtown Rockford so visitors can stretch their legs between games, get a bite to eat, or enjoy a bit of shopping.

Area businesses and students have been busy raising funds for Special Olympics by selling basketball icons. Reds on the River will also host a welcome reception on Friday, March 25 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., prior to the Opening Games Ceremony to be held at Rockford High School gym at 7:30 p.m.

Games will be held at three RPS facilities: Rockford High School, 4100 Kroes St.; Rockford Freshman Center, 4500 Kroes St.; North Rockford Middle School, 397 East Division St. There is no admission charge and the public is encouraged to attend the games and opening ceremony.

Approximately 750 athletes from 52 teams will compete in the finals. Tournament play will include divisions for senior males (ages 16 and up), junior males (ages 8-16), females and skills athletes. The teams are coming from all over the state. In addition to team play, there will be a skills competition for athletes who are not able to compete in a team setting.

The tournament schedule is as follows; all games are free and open to the public.

• Friday, March 25:

4-5 p.m., registration and check-in at Rockford High School

5-6:30 p.m., welcome reception at Reds on the River (8 E. Bridge St.)

5-7 p.m., competition begins at North Rockford Middle School, Rockford High School and Freshman Center

7:30 p.m., opening ceremonies, Rockford High School gym

• Saturday, March 26:

8-9 a.m., registration at Rockford High School lobby

9 a.m.–3 p.m., competition continues at Rockford High School, Freshman Center and North Rockford Middle School gyms

Activities throughout the day for athletes

10 a.m.–4 p.m., free shuttle service to/from schools to Welcome Center, provided by HEART of Rockford Business Association, City of Rockford, Rockford Chamber of Commerce and Rockford Public Schools.

A Young Athletes program will be offered on Friday from 6 to 7:15 p.m. to introduce children ages 2-7 with intellectual disabilities and their families to the benefits of participation in Special Olympics Michigan programs.

On Saturday, the Special Olympics Special Smiles program will be available to athletes. This event allows athletes to have access to a noninvasive dental screening by the Grand Rapids Dental Hygienist Society, receive dental hygiene education, a “goody bag,” other donated items, and a report card on the state of their oral health. This is a free program and a good way for the athletes to become better acquainted with their dental health.

• Presenting Sponsor: Amway

• Statewide Gold Medal Sponsor: Spartan Stores

• Statewide Silver Medal Sponsor: Real Estate One

• Statewide Bronze Medal Sponsors: Applebees and Amerisure Insurance

• Statewide Civic Partners: Law Enforcement Torch Run, Knights of Columbus, Wertz Warriors and Water Warriors

• Additional Sponsors: Kohl’s and TDS

• Friends and Supporters: Delta Dental Foundation

Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for 20,679 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Athletes build physical fitness, develop self-confidence and prepare for participation in society.

SOMI is a nonprofit organization supported almost entirely by corporate and individual gifts, and events, without support of state funds. The generosity of Michigan organizations, individuals and businesses enable the program to continue.


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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.