Housing and dining for the 2011 Special Olympics Iowa State Summer Games

Katherine Klingseis

Ames will experience a massive influx of visitors this week. According to the Iowa Special Olympics website, approximately 3,000 athletes will travel to Ames to compete in the 43rd annual Special Olympics Iowa State Summer Games.

Conference Coordinator for Iowa State’s Department of Residence Martha Royer helps manage the housing and dining arrangments for these new visitors.

“In training our staff, we mention that this is one of our earliest conferences and our most fun conferences because the group itself is just a wonderful group to have here,” Royer said.

Coaches, chaperones and volunteers will also be traveling to Ames for the event. In total, approximately 6,200 people will be a part of the event this year, according to the Iowa Special Olympics website. Royer, however, explained that not all of those visitors will stay overnight.

“Well, not all of them will choose or need to stay overnight, so I would guess that we typically accomodate roughly 1,000 . . . We might hit 1,300 at some point,” Royer said. “It varies every year, but I would say that it would mainly average between 1,000 and 1,200 each year.”

According to Royer, planning for the annual event is a long process. For instance, she explained that she must sit down with the coordinators for the Iowa Special Olympics and discuss any changes with the residence halls or dining facilities.

“For example, I might let them know, for a particular summer, that one of our residence halls might be closed for an upgrade or a renovation or a project,” Royer said. “And, I would let them know what residence halls that we plan to provide housing in, and then I would also let them know of any major changes in our ISU dining facilities that would affect them in that particular summer.”

Ordinarily, the Special Olympics participants would stay in Maple Hall, Willow Hall, and Larch Hall.

“There’s typically a core set of residence halls,” Royer said. “We generally start with [Maple, Willow and Larch] first because they are together in close proximity and they’re air conditioned.”

However, Royer said that Willow Hall is undergoing renovations. Therefore, participants will stay in Oak-Elm Hall instead of Willow.

Special Olympics participants will eat at Seasons Marketplace.

“We have staff [at Seasons] who either have worked with that group before and they’ve always had good records in what they need to do to set up for each conference group, so they have pretty good information in the book with what the special needs are for Special Olympics,” Royer said.

The Special Olympics Iowa State Summer Games run from May 26 to May 28.

Although their stay is short, the Special Olympics participants always make a big impact on Royer and her staff.

“[The Special Olympics participants] are very upbeat and positive, very appreciative,” Royer said. “Our staff really, just sincerely love working with the guests here, and it’s a great experience for us to be able to host the Special Olympics Iowa here on campus.”