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Athletes Meet For Special Olympics

May 20, 2011, 6:20 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Athletes Meet For Special Olympics
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Athletes from around the state are gathering in Sioux Falls for the 43rd annual Special Olympics South Dakota summer games.

The organization held opening ceremonies Thursday and the games continue through Saturday.

So many athletes at the games go home with a story to tell from the award stand, one that started well before the podium.

Kara Conner worked hard moving around the field with a walker to earn her second place finish in a soccer event. A smile didn't leave her face for so much as a second.

It was the same for many of the other 550 participants. Connie Daniel of Chester was proud to watch her daughter compete.

"It's just cool to see them go out and put all their energy into it and have a good time," Daniel said.

"I've been coming to the Special Olympics for 17 years, and you know I love it a lot," Jason Brink said.

Brink of Spearfish is just one of the long-time competitors. From volleyball to sprints, Scott McGee of Sioux Falls has quite the summer game resume himself.

"Yeah, I am having fun; I'm having a blast," McGee said.

They could each get a dedication award to add to their medals. Brink could get one for his heart.

"My grandma died about four months ago and my cousin just got shipped to Afghanistan last Monday," Brink said. "That's a gold medal for my grandma and my cousin and I miss them very much."

Brink says he was competing for coaches and volunteers too. There are around 800 of them.

"It's very exciting and everybody likes to have fun, the coaches and the athletes and the volunteers," McGee said.

They all no doubt got to leave with a story or two of their own as well.

While the summer games have 550 participants, all together 1,600 athletes compete at various events throughout the year.

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