Britton Shipp honored before thousands at Utah Summer Games opening events; STGnews Videocast, Photo Gallery

CEDAR CITY – The 30th annual Utah Summer Games opening ceremonies drew thousands of spectators Thursday night at the Southern Utah University Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City.

Amid fireworks, fanfare and fun, the star of the night was young Britton Shipp, a Washington County teen who has made a miraculous recovery after an ATV accident in 2014 left him comatose with a traumatic brain injury.

Britton, a longtime participant in the games prior to his accident, took the stage Thursday night to light the ceremonial cauldron and receive the “Spirit of the Games” award for 2015.

Britton Shipp receives the Spirit of Games award for his outstanding triumphs through hardships and love of sports at the 30th annual Utah Summer Games Opening, Southern Utah University Eccles Colliseum, Cedar City, Utah, June 11, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Britton Shipp receives the “Spirit of Games” award for his outstanding triumphs through hardships and love of sports at the 30th annual Utah Summer Games opening ceremonies, Southern Utah University Eccles Coliseum, Cedar City, Utah, June 11, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“Britton has been given the Spirit of the Games Award for the strength and championship spirit he has exuded during his amazing comeback,” Utah Summer Games Emcee Bill Marcroft said. “Thank you, Britton, for being an inspiration to all of us.”

Almost everyone who walked past Britton during the event stopped to say hi or to take a picture with him.

The whole Shipp family was in attendance at the ceremony, with exception of Britton’s sister, who was backpacking through Europe, his dad, Jesse Shipp, told the crowd after Britton accepted his award. Ironically, Jesse Shipp said, while the rest of her family was in SUU’s Coliseum, Britton’s sister was at the original Coliseum that very same day.

Britton was also given the honor of carrying the torch to light the cauldron, symbolizing the start of the Utah Summer Games. The excited young man was picked up in an ATV where his family was seated at the 30-yard-line, and he was driven around the entire track while he held the torch high.

As he began his ascent up the ramp to the top of the stage, the crowd began screaming wildly, chanting and calling out his name, “Britton! Britton!” After throwing a couple of footballs into the crowd, Britton, who has had to relearn speech as part of his recovery, spoke to the audience.

Britton Shipp being escorted around the track with the torch to light the cauldron at the 30th annual Utah Summer Games Opening, Southern Utah University Eccles Colliseum, Cedar City, Utah, June 11, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Britton Shipp is escorted around the track carrying the ceremonial torch to light the cauldron at the 30th annual Utah Summer Games opening ceremonies, Southern Utah University Eccles Coliseum, Cedar City, Utah, June 11, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“Wow, look at everyone out here,” he said. “I am so thankful for all the prayers. … I love each and every one of you.”

Jesse Shipp translated the words to the crowd, for those who may not have understood what his son said. Then he added his own sentiment.

The Utah Summer Games have been a family tradition for years, he said. He, Britton and each of the Shipp children have been athletes in the time-honored event.

“If you guys are athletic, which I know all of you are, thank you for participating here,” Jesse Shipp said. “I participated when I was young and all my kids have, and my daughter has, and we’ve loved coming up to the Summer Games.”

Britton has taught his family the values of the little things in life, his father said.

While Britton was the main honoree at the opening ceremonies Thursday night, he was not the only one. Veterans from all branches of the military, representing some of the most treacherous wars in U.S. history, were lined up for all to see and were presented to the crowd for accolades in honor of the sacrifices they have made for the United States.

Everyone stopped to say hi and take a picture with Britton Shipp who was the start of the show for the night at the 30th annual Utah Summer Games Opening, Southern Utah University Eccles Colliseum, Cedar City, Utah, June 11, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
People stop to say hi and take a picture with Britton Shipp, who was the star of the show at the 30th annual Utah Summer Games opening ceremonies, Southern Utah University Eccles Coliseum, Cedar City, Utah, June 11, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Musical group Party Crashers also took the stage, rocking the house, and fireworks lit up the sky during the event.

Throughout the ceremonies, the energy was upbeat and full of enthusiasm as Summer Games fans, athletes and supportive community members were entertained with everything from a clown and his dog to an SUU Senior who stole hearts with her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

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