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Special Olympics Michigan to build world's largest Special Olympics facility

The organization bought the former South Christian High School campus in Byron Township.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Special Olympics Michigan is in the process of renovating the former West Michigan high school campus to become the world's largest Special Olympics facility. 

Wednesday, the organization announced it bought the former South Christian High School campus in Byron Township to remodel it to become the Special Olympics Michigan Unified Sports & Inclusion Center. 

The future center will serve as a training facility for Michigan's four regions of Special Olympics and 36 areas throughout the state. 

Timothy Hileman, the president and CEO of Special Olympics Michigan said this development will help to "foster the very integration and inclusion we seek to bring to our athletes in West Michigan...and to serve athletes throughout the state." 

The organization plans to serve those athletes by putting a "particular emphasis" on unified sports, health and wellness programs, which will then be tailored and shared throughout the state. 

There are more than 22,000 Special Olympics Michigan athletes who find acceptance and inclusion by competing in sports year-round.

Special Olympics Michigan State basketball tournament held Friday night at Calvin College. (Photos from Erin Dougherty)

Those athletes will be able to utilize the 127,000 square-foot building that has two gyms, a 735 seat auditorium and three sports fields, which are on 17 acres along with the building. 

The large space will also provide for year-round programming including little league play, health and wellness services, youth athlete programming, training and development and more. 

Plans are in motion to renovate the building, and once it's completed it will become the world's largest Special Olympics facility to date. 

“I am thrilled to be a part of this tremendous undertaking,” said Juliet Dragos, chairperson, Special Olympics Michigan. “Special Olympics Michigan serves an incredible group of people and I can’t wait to see all of the new opportunities for our athletes, their families and the community.”  

There are more than 6 million Special Olympics athletes and unified partners across the world. And throughout the year, the nonprofit hosts 32 Olympic-type sports and over $100,00 games and competitions. 

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