Athletes shine during Special Olympics in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Athletes shine during Special Olympics in Craig

Bobby Holmberg, center, receives encouragement from friends Debbie Hansen, left, and Blake Abdella as he nears the end of the 400-meter wheelchair race during the Western Area Colorado Spring Special Olympic Games Saturday at Moffat County High School.

It wasn't looking like the Moffat County weather would allow it in the early hours Saturday, but eventually Mother Nature smiled on the fortunes of an activity that means a lot to some special people.

The Western Area Colorado Spring Special Olympic Games took place this weekend at Moffat County High School, as about 100 athletes from the Western Slope competed in track and field, aquatics and weightlifting.

The MCHS track facilities weren't exactly dry but were still usable for folks ready to get out and have some fun in the sports they love and likewise, the people cheering for them in the bleachers.

Now in his eighth year as area coordinator, Dan Severson said he has always looked forward to one thing above all.

"The smiles on their faces," he said, shortly before joining in a small celebration for a group of runners having just crossed the finish line.

The Special Olympics has regularly held events for people with mental or physical disabilities in Craig for about 30 years, and about 40 locals were able to be part of this year's festivities, as well as teams from Steamboat Springs, Delta, Vail and more.

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Among them was Jeremy Gohr, a strong competitor in the 100-meter dash and the softball throw, a variation of the shot put.

"They had to get another tape to measure it," he said happily of his toss.

Gohr runs and throws in the spring and summer, snowboarding in the winter with the STARS program in Steamboat. What he most enjoys about the gathering is the chance to meet more people because he describes himself as a "socialite."

"You get to learn more about other towns and other people," he said.

While Craig athletes had lots of competition on the track and in the pool, there were no visiting teams fielding weightlifters. However, a group of local lifters still posted some high numbers.

Grant Dalton, Jason Latham and Donald McLeslie were honored during the closing ceremony for their work, though Dalton said the 315 pounds he benched for first place wasn't even close to his best.

Lifting coach Billy Chase said a donation of weight equipment from MCHS is much appreciated as athletes continue to practice. He has been involved with Special Olympics for about eight years.

"I'll keep doing it as long as they'll have me," he said, motioning to his group of friends.

Matt Fredrickson said he first started working with his brother, Josh, nearly two decades ago to help him achieve all he could. Today, he's one of the coaches for an entire group of Craig runners.

"It started out as helping Josh, but then the more you do it, the more you see how other people could use your help," he said.

The state level of Special Olympics will kick off in June.

Western Area Manager Julie Fite said she was more than happy with the turnout from the community and with the assistance from entities like Kiwanis Club, Walgreens and the Girl Scouts, as well as representatives of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 and American Legion Post 62.

"We couldn't do it without their help," she said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

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