CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University, Cedar City and Iron County will add another signature sporting event to the summer calendar in 2025.

Special Olympics athletes, along with officials and fans, celebrate new three-year partnership agreement with Utah Summer Games and Special Olympics of Utah, at the State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 30, 2024 | Photo courtesy of SUU Office of Marketing Communication, St. George News / Cedar City News

In a ceremony at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday as part of “SUU Day,” officials from Special Olympics Utah, the ShowUp Foundation and SUU announced a three-year agreement to host the “Special Olympics Utah Summer Games” on the SUU campus, according to a news release.

In the agreement, Special Olympics Utah will work with the university through the Larry H. Miller Utah Summer Games to host the event as a kickoff to Utah Summer Games’ June programming calendar. The ShowUp Foundation will work with both Special Olympics Utah and SUU to provide volunteer support, community engagement and partnership opportunities.

Speakers at Tuesday’s ceremony included Utah First Lady Abby Cox, SUU President Mindy Benson, Special Olympics Utah CEO Scott Weaver and Jon Oglesby, executive director of the Larry H. Miller Utah Summer Games. The aforementioned individuals all signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to finalize the agreement between the parties.

“We are thrilled to welcome Special Olympics Utah to Southern Utah University for their Summer Games starting in 2025,” said SUU President Benson in a news release. “This exciting partnership will lead to expanded opportunities, increased statewide collaboration, and a high-quality experience for all participating athletes and fans.”

Former NFL quarterback Steve Young and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox join Special Olympians for a game of bocce at One Utah Summit, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 4, 2023 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“The Special Olympics Utah Summer Games, hosted on the SUU campus, will offer our friends with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to engage in competition in a world-class venue,” said Utah First Lady Abby Cox. “This event not only highlights the joy of sports but also emphasizes the profound connections forged through these shared experiences.

“Bringing this event to southern Utah is a natural expansion of the inclusion revolution happening in our state and will provide all our athletes with increased opportunities to connect, compete, and showcase their talents.”

The sentiment was echoed by the head of Special Olympics Utah.

“We are excited to partner with SUU to host the 2025 Special Olympics Utah Summer Games,” said President/CEO Scott Weaver. “We look forward to this high-quality competition experience for over 500 Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners. Bringing our event to SUU will allow our athletes to compete at Olympic-caliber venues and enjoy the welcoming hospitality of SUU and Cedar City.”

The Larry H. Miller Utah Summer Games is one of the premier sporting competitions in the state. With more than 40 sporting events, it draws a wide variety of teams and athletes to Cedar City, the news release said. The Olympic-style festival has been conducted at SUU since 1986, with a record high of 10,182 participants, 50,000 spectators and 1,000 volunteers in attendance.

Organizers view all partnerships through the lens of how it accomplishes the unique goals of promoting educational opportunity, growing economic development, and advancing healthy lifestyles.

Written by NIKKI KOONTZ, SUU assistant vice president of marketing communication.

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