STARKVILLE — The Egg Bowl football game is the most divisive annual event in Mississippi households, and that sentiment will be stronger than ever as both Mississippi State and Ole Miss teams experience historically successful seasons in 2014.
This year, Special Olympics Mississippi will unify the schools and the state with the first Special Olympics Unified Egg Bowl on Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. on the campus of MSU.
Special Olympics athletes with intellectual disabilities will play flag football on teams alongside traditional college students from MSU and Ole Miss.
“The goals behind the Unified Egg Bowl are to foster interaction, inclusion and understanding about intellectual disabilities,” said Tony Bahou, president and CEO of Special Olympics Mississippi. “It’s a great way for our athletes to have fun while showing the world that even though we like our sports rivalries, Mississippi is unified in support of Special Olympics.”
Fans of both schools can also use this opportunity to donate funds that will be used to establish Special Olympics programs on the campuses of both Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The school that raises the most money will get a three-point advantage to start the game on Nov. 19. The online hub of activity for donations, event information and other materials is UnifiedEggBowl.org.
“This is truly an historic time for Mississippi, and the world is watching and cheering,” said Bahou. “There’s much more at stake than the glory of winning — we are challenging both schools to make history by helping create unified sports programs on their campuses. They can do that by donating, volunteering and pledging not to use the R-word.”
The Special Olympics Unified Egg Bowl will be held on the intramural athletic fields on Stone Boulevard on the campus of Mississippi State University, just down from Davis-Wade Stadium and the home of the top-rated Bulldogs football team. MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricklin will kick off festivities, and Miss MSU Randi-Kathryn Harmon will perform the national anthem. A pep squad of the school’s Famous Maroon Band is slated to perform at halftime.
“Our support for the mission of Special Olympics Mississippi runs deep,” said Stricklin. “We are looking forward to seeing our student body and community show their support as we host the first-ever Unified Egg Bowl.”
Special Olympics Mississippi became one of the first pilot programs after Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver visited Ellisville State School in Jones County in 1968, and was officially incorporated and recognized by the state in August 1975, making 2015 the organization’s 40th anniversary in Mississippi.
Today, Special Olympics Mississippi serves more than 3,000 athletes through a network of 17 multi-county areas and thousands of volunteers. Athletes compete locally at more than 50 events across the state, then statewide at the annual Summer Games and Fall Games. Athletes can then advance to the national and international levels of competition.
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