"Good" is how Andrea Schlimgen felt after racing in the 100 meter walk event Wednesday at the regional Special Olympics games. Since the 36-year-old was 8, the fun of competing in different events and meeting new people has kept her coming back to the games, she said. Eighty-one athletes joined her in the Great Northern Area Games with events ranging from bowling and swimming to track and field events like wheelchair races and jumping events. Each athlete received an average of three to five medals, with a total of 180 golds, 100 silvers and 50 bronzes awarded. The athletes came from within the Great Northern Area that stretches from Chester to Chinook and picks up outlying areas such as Rocky Boy and Hogeland. This year's games were dedicated to Cheryl Carlson, whose son, Jeff, is an athlete. Carlson died in December. "It's always a good feeling, and it's a great day," said Shaylee Lewis, the director of Special Olympics for the region, from the Havre Middle School track before the races began. "It's just a nice way for Special Olympics athletes to showcase their abilities," Lewis said. "It makes me feel like I'm a champion of the Special Olympics," said Harlem athlete Ryan Stout after he finished a walking event. The day's competition marked the fourth year he has been involved, and he said he wishes that the games were held more often. He walks on a treadmill at home and swims and practices bowling before the games, he said. "I really like it a lot," he said. "It feels really good. I think it's really exciting for me." "I feel OK," Wendy Overlie said after running the 50 meter dash. "I know how to run fast," she said. "It takes a lot of energy to run." The feeling of excitement extended beyond the athletes to the coaches and fans, as well. "It's awesome," Havre Day Activity Center coach Kevin Friede said. "I just like how they just look forward to everything." If someone is debating volunteering, Friede said that seeing the excitement of the athletes and how much effort they put into the games "is always inspiring, and just what you get out of everything is enough."
More than 80 compete in Special Olympics games
Published: Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
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