GREAT FALLS – The Special Olympics Montana Flame of Hope returned to Great Falls on Wednesday as the organization announced the city will host the State Summer Games for the next three years with the theme, “Rise Against the Roar.”

Around 1,200 athletes of all ages will be in town for the state games in May. The three-day event will feature 10 Olympic-type sports, which vary from track and field to alpine skiing and bocce ball.

According to organizers, the last time the state games were hosted in Great Falls was in 2008.

Organizers said this year’s location will give athletes in rural communities like Conrad and Shelby the chance to compete close to home.

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While SOMT aims to help individuals with special needs, the organization encourages all athletes to join a team.

“We have a lot of people getting involved in Special Olympics without an intellectual disability that are competing alongside our athletes,” SOMT Vice President of Sports Jamie Wood said. “Unified sports is a great way of creating inclusion within a community and maybe bringing together two populations that without a reason don’t maybe interact on a regular basis.”

Organizers added there will be around 200 unified teams competing this year.

The Special Olympics Montana State Summer games take place May 15-18.

For more information, visit the Special Olympics Montana website.

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