SAINT PAUL -- Student-athletes from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) joined with Special Olympians from Special Olympics Minnesota at Macalester College in St. Paul on Sunday to celebrate the continued partnership of NCAA Division III athletics and Special Olympics.
The event was a testament that the MIAC and Special Olympics Minnesota not only compete unified but celebrate unified. Twenty-five student-athletes from around the conference joined Twenty Special Olympians for an afternoon of fun that featured several rounds of bingo, an energetic dance party, and a MIAC-themed photo booth. Mitchell Maday, a Hamline University football and track and field student-athlete, was among those to participate in Sunday's event. Maday said the experience of collaborating with other student-athletes around the conference is among the highlights of the MIAC's Special Olympics partnership.
"Hosting a conference-wide event to celebrate Special Olympians is an exciting opportunity to come together for a good cause, as we are so often competing against each other," Maday said.
The celebration came on the heels of NCAA Division III Week in early April, during which time many campuses around the MIAC hosted Special Olympics events.
The MIAC has always valued the Division III partnership with Special Olympics and aims to host a unified event every year, the past three years included unified basketball and bowling. MIAC student-athletes continue to lead Division III in Special Olympics participation, with a majority of conference institutions having earned designation as "Champion Schools" by Special Olympics Minnesota. Several MIAC institutions have also formed "unified rivalries," competing against each other alongside Special Olympics throughout the academic year. Augsburg and Hamline boast the longest-standing unified rivalry in the conference, as Auggies and Pipers annually team up with Special Olympics athletes to compete for "The Hammer" in both basketball and flag football.
For more information on Special Olympics Minnesota, please visit https:/specialolympicsminnesota.org.