Special Olympics say goodbye to Columbia

Bowling events capped this year's Special Olympics Summer State Games. Organizers say the events will move to Springfield next year.

The conclusion of the Special Olympics State Summer Games Sunday marked the end of the games' three-year run in Columbia.

Spokesman Brandon Schatsiek told KRCG 13 Missouri's Special Olympics games are rotated around the state on a regular basis. He said the games will spend the next four years in Springfield.

Bowling topped off the events Sunday afternoon, with new unified teams taking to the lanes around midafternoon. Schatsiek said this is a new idea that pairs an athlete with an intellectual disability with someone who does not have such a disability. He likened the parings to a Big Brothers/Big Sisters relationship.

Amanda Geno and Tanya Johnson make up one of two unified bowling teams Missouri is sending to the national games in New Jersey. Geno, a Lee's Summit police officer, said she and Johnson have spent a lot of time practicing for those games, but they have enjoyed every minute of it. Johnson said she liked getting to bowl regularly with Geno and she was excited to go to New Jersey.

Schatsiek said a little more than 2,000 athletes took part in this weekend's events, which is about average.