View: Special Olympics Photo Gallery
MOUNT PLEASANT - This year Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games celebrated 40 years at Central Michigan University, and CMU Athletics helped add to the excitement for the more than 5,500 athletes, coaches, volunteers and chaperones who visited Mount Pleasant.
Head football coach Dan Enos, receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield, head baseball coach Steve Jaksa and athletes from the football and volleyball teams all had a role in the event.
From passing out water, working at various competitions and even signing autographs, the Chippewas were a great addition to this year’s games. CMU athletes and coaches have made it a habit to volunteer at the State Summer Games year after year.
During the games, Enos and Stubblefield joined Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton and former NFL players T.J. Duckett and Tom Kanka for a celebrity autograph session held in the CMU Event Center atrium.
Chippewa offensive line Darren Keyton was one of about 15 football players who volunteered at this year’s State Summer Games. Keyton volunteered mostly with the powerlifting competition and team handball during the weekend’s events.
“Building connections with athletes and seeing them all day,” Keyton said in describing his favorite part about volunteering. “It was really cool to watch powerlifting, it was great to see the weight the athletes were putting up.”
Special Olympics provides competition for people of all ages with intellectual disabilities to practice sports skills during year-round events. Although the athletes who participate in Special Olympics have disabilities, the similarities they share with CMU athletes are one in the same.
“I see a lot of connections,” Keyton said. “They work all year for this. It doesn’t start just a week or two before competition, just like we (football team) are here working hard and getting better.”
The Chippewa football team was easy to identify during Opening and Closing Ceremonies as they wore their jerseys during the celebration causing many Special Olympics Michigan athletes to flock around the players wanting pictures and autographs, which was ironic to Keyton for one simple reason.
“They are more of an inspiration to me than I am to them, being able to see them compete was amazing,” Keyton said.