Athletes from Steamboat take a break from the Special Olympics Western Regional Meet in Craig during the weekend. Despite cold weather, the competition was a success.

Courtesy Photo

Athletes from Steamboat take a break from the Special Olympics Western Regional Meet in Craig during the weekend. Despite cold weather, the competition was a success.

Locals fare well at Special Olympics

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Sara Barry has a suggestion.

Next spring, if people are looking for something to do, the Horizons Specialized Services volunteer suggested they head to Craig to watch the Special Olympics Western Regional Meet.

It won't just make their day, it will make their year, Barry said.

"The best part of coaching these kids is seeing their faces and their emotions," said Barry, who coached the Steamboat swim team at last weekend's meet in Craig. "When they're standing on the podium, it gives you chills with how happy they are."

Steamboat certainly was represented well on the podium at this year's regionals. Although the weather limited the number of events in track and field, the swimming portion went on without a hitch, and most Steamboat athletes received a medal.

Those winning gold medals included the 100- and 400-yard relay teams of Rhianna Gifford, Kelly Chambers, Jamie Kaminski, Jaimee Purcell-Sexton and Mark Leftwich, among others.

"That's their Olympics," Barry said. "We practiced three nights a week for five weeks. They worked hard at the pool. They swam in the rain; they swam in snow. They didn't care."

The track and field team was limited to a few events because of wind and cold weather.

Still, volunteer coach Susan Ross said the event is always successful. Ross held practices at the high school two times a week for two months before the competition.

"It was fun to get out there and have their day," said Ross, who has been coaching and volunteering for four years. "In fact, it's pretty darn fun."

At the regional meet, several Steamboat athletes qualified for the state meet at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley on May 31 and June 1.

Horizons athletes who have qualified in track and field include Don Pearce, Rick Rapalee, Keith Fortune and Misty Garcia. Those who have qualified in swimming include Chambers, Kaminski, Purcell-Sexton and Gifford.

The Special Olympics are part of a range of day-program activities offered by Horizons.

"I've been here with Horizons for 10 years, and I can tell you all of our athletes look forward to it and ask me months in advance about it," said Ginny Cannon, Horizons' Routt County day-program director. "They love to practice, they love to compete and they give it their all. They love to be involved and get to work with volunteers in the community. It gives them a healthy lifestyle."

Comments

pattiworsley 6 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations Coach Sara and all the Swimmers. I have watched you all work hard at the pool training. You have all improved dramatically. Sara you are a great coach and thanks for all your heart felt volunteering and dedication to your swimmers. It has been a lot of fun watching you all become such great swimmers.

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