Wow! What a great moment for Minnesotans with disabilities and the state in general. When I found out on May 6 that Governor Tim Walz announced that the Special Olympics USA Games would be coming to the Twin Cities in June of 2026, I was surprised, but gleeful. It is the opportune time to put adapted athletics even more in the mainstream so the public can get visibility of disabled athletes, how they take competing seriously, and learn more about modified events.
As a disability advocate, I have communicated with a couple of people about the possibility of bringing an adapted athletic event to a major venue and even building a facility specifically for adapted sports in Minneapolis. It is now confirmed that one of those will come true and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Having various programming and resources for individuals with impairments, and world-class facilities, Minnesota is a perfect fit for the games. The Twin Cities prides itself of having accessible arenas and stadiums, and that will cater nicely to all 4,000 athletes and nearly 75,000 spectators who will partake in 20 events. University of Minnesota’s President Joan Gabel and the planning committee should really consider using U.S. Bank Stadium as a venue for certain sports, including the opening ceremony. That would be the utmost recognition to say that these deserving competitors are part of us and for them to have a memory of a lifetime.
This will be a great event that should receive outstanding media coverage. In recent years, ESPN has aired the games, and that will continue in the coming years. Moreover, the Twin Cities media must form a plan to provide extensive coverage of the biggest Special Olympics event. As a suggestion, television personalities could be live and hold newscasts at the complexes that will host.
Thank you Walz, Gabel, and UnitedHealth Group for bringing this six-day competition to Minnesota. Let’s start planning!