Olympic 'shoe-in'

Local Special Olympian selected to go to 2005 Winter World Games

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Josh Dalton couldn't wait for spring break to come. One day into the break he was ready to go back to school.

The 16-year-old Special Olympics athlete found out Saturday that he had been selected to compete in the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

"He was so excited he wanted to go back to school to tell his teachers," Dalton's mom, Bonnie said. "He kept walking around the house saying 'I'm going to Japan.'"

To get selected for any Special Olympics World Games an athlete must win a medal at a state games. Then for every medal their name gets entered in a drawing.

Dalton was drawn to compete in snowshoeing.

"I'm going to train all year," he said.

Josh's brother, J.D., and his mom have made trips to a World Games before. Not only will this be Josh's first World Games, it will be his first time out of the country and, "I get to fly on a plane for the first time," he said with through a big grin.

Special Olympics funds all athletes' trips to World Games. The 2005 Winter Games will be held Feb. 26 through March 5 in 2005.

"He'll be outfitted head to toe in red, white and blue," Bonnie Dalton said, who went as a coach to a World Games. "They really treat them well."

Dalton is a 16-year-old junior at Moffat County High School. He was diagnosed with seizures when he was 8, the age when he first started with Special Olympics. He also suffers from mental and motor-skill disabilities.

His mom said Special Olympics has been Josh's life since he joined.

"His core group of friends are there, it keeps him active and helps his self esteem," she said. "He never could have made the high school basketball team or anything like that."

He has a long list of activities that he participates in throughout the year.

"Cross country skiing, my first sport, swimming, power lifting, track and field, bocci and bowling," he said.

Dalton owes part of the chance to go to Japan to a teammate he met in another sport during the summer.

Ashleigh Santistevan, a newcomer to the local Special Olympics team, really wanted to compete in the Colorado State Winter Games at Copper Mountain.

"She has cerebral palsy and has to use her crutches when competing," Bonnie Dalton said. "She is an inspiration to Josh and a lot of the reason we went to Copper was so she could go."

The two went to Copper Mountain and later Dalton stood a top the medal stand for the two races he competed in, the 300-meter and 500-meter snowshoe race. The distance of the race he'll compete in for the World Winter Games will be decided later by Special Olympics.

"He doesn't know yet what distance he'll compete in, but his goal is to run all the way up Cathy Cisar hill before he goes," his mom said.

In the summer Josh said he plans to ride his bike and walk a lot to get into shape. Then in the winter his training will take place "anywhere there's snow."

The Special Olympic athlete hasn't been away from home longer than a week. He will travel with the other five Colorado athletes selected and some coaches. That makes his mom a little anxious. Josh doesn't seem too worried.

"Aren't you going to miss your mom?" she asked.

"Maybe a little," he said. "But I'm going to be busy."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

"Maybe a little," he said. "But I'm going to be busy."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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