Ocean City will be host to a new Unified Pickleball event on Saturday, Jan. 28, for the Special Olympics.
Play will take place 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ocean City Sports and Civic Center at Sixth Street and Boardwalk.
In the Special Olympics, the term “Unified” designates sports in which athletes with disabilities team up with people from the community or local teams.
“We are very excited to try this new event for the first time, and I would love to make Ocean City a Special Olympics town,” Mayor Jay Gillian said.
The inaugural event in Ocean City will include 16 athletes with disabilities such as down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy. They range in age from teens to young adults.
Play will be broken up into 10-minute sessions geared toward teaching the game. Special Olympics hopes to make pickleball an official sport in the near future.
It will be included as an exhibition competition at this year’s Special Olympics’ State Summer Games.
While Saturday’s event in Ocean City is not officially affiliated with Special Olympics, the goal is to give local athletes a head start in the new sport. The city hopes one day to be host of official Special Olympics Pickleball events.
Ocean City is home to annual Special Olympics competitions in swimming (scheduled this year for March 19), track and field (May 7) and other events.