Several Homer athletes represented their town at this year’s Special Olympics USA Games last week, participating alongside athletes from all over Alaska.
Team Alaska traveled to Seattle, Washington to participate in the games from July 1-6. The games generally see about 4,000 athletes and coaches, according to a press release from Special Olympics Alaska. The athletes compete in 14 different Olympic style summer sports.
Team Alaska is made up of 25 athletes, including four from Homer. Robin Daugherty, 64, and Richard Everett, 58, competed as partners in Unified Bowling. Two other Homer bowlers, 33-year-old Lee Grunstad and 43-year-old Jody Herd, joined the team as well with the hope of knocking some pins.
Both Daugherty and Grunstad are relative newcomers to the games, having participated for two years and three years, respectively.
Everette brought 15 years of participation in the games to the table, and Herd a whopping 29 years.
“Alaska’s passion and dedication to sports and Special Olympics athletes will be well represented at the Special Olympics USA Games,” said Special Olympics Alaska President/CEO Nicolle Egan in the press release. “Sports changes lives. The USA Games will give Alaskans with intellectual disabilities and their teammates without intellectual disabilities the opportunity to shine and demonstrate the power of sports on the national stage.”
Special Olympics Alaska is an accredited program of Special Olympics Inc., a global organization that has provided sports training and competition to people with intellectual disabilities since 1968.
There are more than 2,000 athletes in 11 cities and towns in Alaska who participate in Special Olympic programming.