There was excitement and enthusiasm in abundance on Wednesday night during the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Special Olympics Summer Games in the Adams Center, but it was Phyllis Washington who really rocked the house.

During her address to the packed arena, Mrs. Washington announced that the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation was pledging a $1 million donation to the Montana Special Olympics Endowment Campaign, which brought the thousands who filled the arena to their feet.

Executive Director Mike Halligan said the donation was part of a statewide campaign.

"We have been investing in Special Olympics for 30 years," Halligan said. "As the Special Olympics summer games moves from Missoula to Great Falls next year and will have their 50th anniversary in 2020, we wanted to give them some momentum going into the endowment campaign, so Mrs. Washington announced that the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation will be donating a million dollars to the capacity building effort by the Special Olympics in order to make sure that more athletes all over Montana are able to participate in the summer games."

Halligan said Montana Special Olympics Chairman and head cheerleader Bob Norbie was ecstatic about the donation.

"Bob was ecstatic, because with our donation, we were able to leverage another $1 million that Tom Scott and the tremendous effort by the First Interstate Bank people," he said. "They matched our million and then other donors came forward once they saw the momentum generated by those two gifts. "Bob announced last night that they're up to about $4.6 million to try to get to $10 million for their endowment campaign."

Inclement weather drove some of the competition indoors, but the Special Olympics closed in spectacular fashion for their three year run in Missoula. For the next three years, the games will be held in Great Falls.

Organizers wish to thank the thousands of volunteers and merchants who donated time and prizes for the event.