Our view: A special Olympian

Scoot over Korey Kostur and Scott Garoutte, and make room on the champion's throne for another Moffat County athlete.

Josh Dalton, 17, won a gold medal and a silver medal at the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

The Moffat County High School student competed as a snowshoe racer and was thrilled to bring home some medals, his mother, Bonnie Dalton, said Tuesday during a reception at the high school.

Bonnie stayed on top of the competition during Josh's trip to Japan by going to the library and looking up results on the Internet. She was hopeful Josh would win, but she was just glad he got the chance to compete.

"If it wasn't for Special Olympics, Josh wouldn't have a chance to play. He would not be on a Parks and Rec team or a high school team. Special Olympics has given him the self-confidence to go out and try things," she said.

Josh was diagnosed with seizures at age 8. He also suffers from mental and motor-skill disabilities. But Josh is a serious competitor. He trains for Special Olympics events year-round. During the summer games, hosted here in Craig by the Kiwanis Club, he has competed in swimming and power lifting.

A significant number of residents, whether they meant to or not, supported Josh Dalton and other Special Olympics athletes from the region by attending the Kiwanis Club's only fund-raiser of the year this past weekend.

Proceeds from the annual Kiwanis Play supports the club's service projects, including the Special Olympics. During the play, master of ceremonies Kirk McKey related how the Kiwanis Club came to host the district games every summer. The district event used to be hosted at various town around the Western Slope. Kiwanis member Howard Kling worked to bring it to Craig and assembled a team of volunteers that made it one of the best-run district meets in the state. It's been here ever since.

The Kiwanis Club hosts a party for the athletes before the district meet. The Moffat County High School Key Club and local restaurants also lend support to the event.

One thing the games lack, however, are spectators to cheer on these courageous athletes.

Before the games, athletes recite the Special Olympics creed: "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

Special Olympics isn't about winners and losers. It's about an opportunity to compete. But it's still nice that Josh Dalton's hard work has paid off with a gold medal.

It's nicer still that Craig, Colo., plays an important role in making Special Olympics special. Our hope is that more rank-and-file residents will take the opportunity to support the athletes when they are on the field.

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