Volunteers win at Special Olympics

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About 14 years ago, a friend asked Bonnie Dalton if she could help host a dinner for the Special Olympics.

Dalton, a Craig resident, said yes. In fact, she hasn't ever said no.

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Dalton is deeply entrenched in the annual Special Olympics com-

petition and works almost year-round making sure the event comes off without a hitch.

"It was wonderful. Just awesome," Dalton said. "There were a lot of gold medals given out, which is nice."

The "local program coordinator" title given to Dalton barely covers the work put in by the woman who also is the fundraiser, coach and mother of three athletes competing in the Special Olympics Western Area Summer Games.

The games took place Saturday at Moffat County High School.

Sons J.D. and Josh swam in the water events Saturday, and daughter J'Lea competed in the bench press and power lifting events.

"It's just part of my life, being where the kids and their friends are," Dalton said. "Watching their faces as they compete. It's wonderful."

Dalton praised the Craig community for the support given to the event, from the Friday dance at Craig Intermediate School to breakfast at McDonald's on Saturday morning.

The same accolades came from five-year volunteer and games director Jim Herschberg.

"At lunch we served 300 people with food donated from all the restaurants, Wendy's, Subway, Pizza Hut and Domino's, to name a few," he said. "The ladies at Sunset Meadows made 100 pounds of fruit salad, and Pepsi and Coke donated the drinks."

The 13 teams comprising 132 athletes from western Colorado were guided to events by an equally impressive number of volunteers.

"We had 60 volunteers and possibly a fair amount more because I lost count," Herschberg said. "A lot of high school kids helped out. Jeff Pleasant did a great job on the track, with Pete Pleasant starting the events. It was run like a college level competition."

Herschberg also noted the work done by the Colorado Northwestern Community College Cosmetology class, serving the meals to athletes and volunteers.

Sean Smith "worked his tail off" and Kirk McKey conducted the 90-minute awards ceremony, with thanks coming from Herschberg.

"This event had tons of help. The Kiwanis was pretty active in the whole thing," he said. "John Forgay and K.C. Hume did an outstanding job running the weightlifting."

Volunteers needed to look no further than Saturday's competition to recall why they give their time for events such as the Special Olympics.

"I'll never forget Kelly (Chambers of Steamboat Springs) at the finish of his race," Dalton said. "He was so excited he jumped out of the pool and put his hands in the air, giving everyone high fives.

"When you see that you know it's all worth it."

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