HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – A state-wide Special Olympics competition wrapped up on Highlands Ranch on Sunday.
Hundreds of athletes from across Colorado took part in the weekend events and CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann met some of the excited competitors.
While the world was busy watching Olympians compete in Rio, Colorado families were supporting some very special athletes giving their all in Highlands Ranch.
“They all always play to the highest level that they possibly can. They care about winning, they care about carrying their part of the team or individual sport, they’re excited to be out here,” said Mindy Watrous, President and CEO of Special Olympics Colorado.
“It’s a privilege to be in the Special Olympics,” said Alex Noguiera, Special Olympian.
Nogueira was among the 600 athletes who took part in the Special Olympics at Redstone Park. Like his competition — he loves tennis.
“Certain shots are hard, but once you get in the groove; when you start getting used to it, then it comes naturally,” he said.
Special Olympians vied for the gold, silver and bronze in a variety of sports. The games encourage and support athletes of all ages and abilities. Many competed on unified teams that help some young athletes prepare for trying out for different sports at school.
“People with and without disabilities playing on the same team, really showing other people the tremendous abilities of our athletes, the talents that they bring to the table, and making friends,” Watrous said.
Not every Special Olympian walks away with a medal, but Noguiera says he and his fellow athletes left the games with inspiration worth more than gold.
“Everybody learns something every day and I never give up, and that’s important to never give up.”