By Barry Janoff
March 15, 2012: National retailer Toys 'R' Us has signed a deal to become the first Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.
The 2014 Games are scheduled for several venues throughout New Jersey, June 14-21. More than 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will compete in 17 sports, according to the Special Olympics Organizing Committee.
The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games are expected to have an economic impact of $50 million.
Anchoring the alliance is a $1 million commitment from the Toys 'R' Us Children's Fund to the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. In addition to its Founding Partner status, Toys 'R' Us will be the presenting sponsor of the Young Athletes Festival, described as an "inclusive, innovative play program for children with and without special needs that develops critical early cognitive, social and motor skills and introduces kids to the world of sports."
Toys 'R' Us, headquartered in Wayne, NJ, is expected to support the alliance with multi-media marketing and in-store activations.
Other sponsors include TD Bank, Wyndham Worldwide, Amerihealth and the NHL's New Jersey Devils. Additional partners are expected to be unveiled as the Games draw closer.
"As a New Jersey-based organization with a long-standing commitment to children of all abilities, we are tremendously proud to partner with Special Olympics as they bring the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games to our home state for the first time," Kathleen Waugh, chairwomen for the Toys 'R' Us Children's Fund, said in a statement. "We look forward to deepening our enduring relationship with Special Olympics in welcoming athletes to New Jersey and enriching their overall experience at the first-ever Young Athletes Festival."
The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, held every four years, will be the third held in the U.S., following 2006 Iowa and 2010 Nebraska.
Locations for 2014 are scheduled to include Princeton University, Rider University, the College of New Jersey and Mercer Country Park. An estimated 10,000 volunteers as well as 50,000 additional spectators will be in attendance.
According to TJ Nelligan, chairman and CEO for the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games Organizing Committee, "We are thrilled to welcome Toys 'R' Us as our first Founding Partner. [The company] has embraced a dimension of these Games that will introduce children and their families to the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program, and through their unprecedented support, change the lives of these future athletes and their families for many years to come."