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The Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission will join the organizations celebrating university’s role in upcoming games

The CMU Alumni Association will celebrate the university’s involvement with Special Olympics on Friday, June 7, 2019. The association will join CMU President Tim Foster, the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission and CMU Alumnus Mark Whiting to help communicate why CMU is a Special Olympics Colorado supporter. Whiting is donating the service of his famous hot air balloon to elevate visibility of CMU’s role in the Special Olympics Colorado State Summer Games. The games are hosted on the CMU campus and will occur June 7-9.

“I see the games as a celebration of what these athletes teach us about ourselves, and each other, as the primary reason for the involvement of CMU. The Special Olympics are about more than just inclusion," said CMU President Tim Foster. "The athletes offer us the potential to grow towards inclusion, tolerance, sportsmanship, perseverance, unity and the elevation of the human spirit. These are just a few examples.”

Foster is known throughout higher education as a university president who believes in the ability of sports and competition as one way for students to better their lives. 

At 3:30pm the hot air balloon will lift off the ground rising above the CMU Delta Intramural Field located between Wubben Hall and Science Building and the CMU Art and Design Building. The basket will contain the university mascot, President Foster and Megan Toohey, Vice President of Development of Special Olympics Colorado. Toohey hopes for a windless afternoon so she can participate in the Rising Together ceremony with Foster. 

"We are so grateful to CMU and The Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission for their dedication to and support of the 1,000+ athletes who will be here for the State Summer Games. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to ‘Rise Together’ as a fun and creative way to bring more visibility to the Special Olympics movement, State Summer Games and most importantly, our shared vision of inclusion,” said Toohey.

Rick Adleman, associate director of development for the CMU Foundation, has been in conversation with CMU Alumnus Mark Whiting about the balloon for several weeks. He said Whiting is donating his time because he believes both in the mission of CMU and the goals and objectives of the Special Olympics. Adleman said Whiting’s energy and efforts are appreciated. 

“Rising together is a metaphor for our shared values with Special Olympics. The community is invited to join us and watch the metaphor come to life as Megan Toohey and Tim Foster climb into the balloon for a good cause," said Adleman. 

CMU Alumni Association Director Jared Meier will provide refreshments and encourages all CMU faculty, staff, alumni and their families to come see the balloon and help CMU spread the word about the Special Olympics of Colorado. 

“For me this event is personal. A member of my family has a disability and my family has been touched by what some people see as limitations. But we are a living testament to the fact that people with disabilities have more to offer us than us them. Special Olympics Colorado, and events like it, are what makes a community stronger and better,” said Meier.

The Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission is a supporting partner in organizing the games and is offering on a first-come-first-serve basis premium athletic socks to people who join the ceremony. 

“After we rise together we walk together," said GGJSC Executive Director Renee Wheelock. “What better way to recognize that fact than providing athletic socks as a fun gift that represents that idea.” 

Media and community members interested in learning about the balloon and seeing it rise are encouraged to attend.

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Written by David Ludlam