Virtual Youth Games Presented by Nike

Nike’s mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world; and share their unwavering belief that if you have a body, you are an athlete. Since 2007, Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) and Nike have partnered to host the Special Olympics Oregon Youth Games, with more than 5,000 youth participants. Youth with intellectual disabilities and their families are invited to the Nike campus (granted, Covid threw a curveball in 2021 and we hosted the event virtually) where they rotate through stations and experience playing soccer on Ronaldo Field, running on the Michael Johnson Track, shooting baskets in Bo Jackson Fitness Center, and more.  Our collective hope every year is that they get hooked on sport when they realize what they can do and decide to become a part of the Special Olympics Oregon family to enjoy a lifetime of training and competition, health, and fitness programs, and maybe most important – friendships. 

This year, SOOR and Nike with local companies Raise Agent, ZP Productions and Engagez to create a Virtual Youth Games venue that was open to participants from May 3 – 6.  We cannot thank the University of Portland men’s and women’s soccer teams, University of Willamette men’s basketball and women’s soccer teams, Fulcrum Fitness instructors and Nike employees enough for the sixty sport videos they made for the event.  The 506 youth participants and their families could watch the videos through the online event venue, and each received a Nike Play Bag that contained sports equipment to use throughout the video sessions.   

“Nike is overjoyed with the first-ever Virtual Youth Games.  The virtual venue sport videos looked amazing and encouraged participants to be active. We are happy to partner with Special Olympics Oregon to get kids moving even in a virtual format”, said Patrice Thramer (Sr. Director, Global Employee Community Engagement for Nike).   

The hope is to return to the Nike World Headquarters for the next Youth Games event, but Special Olympics staff are grateful to have been able to engage and connect with new families online during the past year when they needed us most.  As one parent shared, “This was an amazing first encounter with Special Olympics and we look forward to participating in the future.  Thank you for the Nike Play Bag.  It provided a lot of items we enjoyed using for the Special Olympics Virtual Youth Games and beyond.  Thank you!”  

Watch the Opening and Closing Ceremonies today!