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Special Olympics Florida–Monroe County to Host Key West Paddle Invitational

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — More than 100 Special Olympics stand-up paddle (SUP) enthusiasts from across the country, along with athletes’ families and friends, are to gather in Key West for the sixth annual Stand Up Paddle Invitational set for Friday through Sunday, Oct. 13-15.

Participants selected for the July 2018 USA Games in Seattle, Washington, and athletes from multiple states are to compete in the invitational. Started in 2012, the Key West event helped Special Olympics Florida launch stand-up paddling as a sanctioned sport.

“We’re happy that Key West is open for business and ready to greet all of our event participants,” said Ruth Holland, county director for Special Olympics Florida in the Florida Keys & Key West.

Main paddle events are to be held at Key West’s Smathers Beach, 2601 S. Roosevelt Blvd., which features restrooms, showers and free parking.

An opening event is scheduled 4-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, 320 Grinnell St. 

Saturday, Oct. 14, teams can volunteer for Florida Keys cleanup activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Participants can register and purchase raffle tickets at 4 p.m. Saturday at Duval Square, 1075 Duval St. Traditional Special Olympics opening ceremonies, with a Parade of Athletes, are to begin at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St., and end at 4:30 p.m. at Duval Square.

A catered dinner dance, hosted by New York Pasta Garden at Duval Square, is to follow from 5-8 p.m. The $25 per person ticket price benefits Special Olympics athletes in the Florida Keys.

The main race day is Sunday, Oct. 15, with a paddleboard event and a beach run obstacle course designed by race director Sue Cooper. Special Olympics races start at 8:30 a.m., and races open to the public at 11:30 a.m. with a donation requested. Events are inclusive for paddlers of all levels, adapted for Special Olympics athletes and include activities for families and nonpaddlers.

Sponsors include Lazy Dog, Preferred Properties, Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, Hilton Garden Inn Key West / The Keys Collection, The Perry Hotel Key West and Lower Keys Medical Center and Medical Group. Attendees are urged to contact their preferred hotel directly for reservations.

Special Olympics Florida–Monroe County offers year-round sports training, competition and health services at no cost to more than 150 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in the Florida Keys. Visit specialolympicsmonroe.org or call 305-923-0288. 

Event information and registration: http://specialolympicsflorida.org/monroe/fundraise/sup-invitational

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY

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