Special Olympics Washington recently held its annual State Spring Games, where athletes from across the state eagerly came together for a weekend of competition and celebration. Held from June 9 – June 11, this year’s Spring Games took place at Pacific Lutheran University, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, where athletes competed in athletics (track and field), powerlifting, soccer and swimming.

The events kicked off with the Opening Ceremony at Pacific Lutheran University’s Olson Auditorium on Friday, June 9, showcasing the parade of athletes and the lighting of the cauldron. The Flame of Hope was carried by Kellen Mendez and Mitchell Hibdon (Washington’s delegates for the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin) and Director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, Patrick Gilbert.

Flame of Hope Kellen Mendez (left), Officer Patrick Gilbert (middle) and Mitchell Hibdon (right) carry the Flame of Hope to light the cauldron at the 2023 State Spring Games Opening Ceremony. (Photo/L.K. Lee)


The atmosphere was filled with excitement and anticipation on Saturday and Sunday as competitions were in full swing. Thousands of athletes of all ages and abilities showcased their talents, determination and dedication to their sports, with the encouragement of hundreds of spectators passionately cheering them on. Our amazing volunteers worked around the clock to care for our athletes and provide the strong sense of community that makes events like these a possibility.

Alongside these events, athletes had fun at Olympic Town, the Victory Dance, and had the opportunity to go to Healthy Athletes screenings. These screenings allow athletes to receive hearing and vision screenings at no charge, adhering to our mission to keep our athletes healthy and safe as they dedicate themselves to their sports.

Healthy Athletes Screening Special Olympics Healthy Hearing was located at Pacific Lutheran University during the State Spring Games, providing free eye screenings to athletes. (Photo/Rod Mar)


All events this weekend served as an amazing example of the powerful ability of sports to unite individuals and foster a sense of community state-wide. We are so proud of the inspiring commitment that all our athletes have consistently demonstrated at these State Games and beyond. We look forward to seeing all that they accomplish in the upcoming season.