Special Olympics sees record participation in Iowa City - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Special Olympics sees record participation in Iowa City

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Shelly Haganman of Iowa City never misses one of her son Jordan's games.

"Very proud of him.  He's my hero.  My son's my hero," she said.

At 6 foot 2, Jordan stands head and shoulders above his teammates, but get to know him, and it's his passion that's larger than life.

"He's our gentle giant, loves his family, loves Hawkeye sports, loves his friends, school, just a good kid," Haganman said.

Jordan lives with autism.  For him, communicating with others can be challenging.  Playing in the special olympics has helped him overcome that difficulty.

"He's learned a lot of things working with kids his age and learning different terms that can kind of help him understand what he's supposed to do," Haganman said.

For more than one thousand Iowa athletes battling intellectual disabilities, this weekend's special olympics tournament is one they have been looking forward to for a long time.

"Special Olympics Iowa is like one big family.  We have multiple family reunions and we go compete against each other six times a year in some sport.  You just get to see everybody you haven't seen for awhile," said Special Olympics volunteer Rob Wagner.

On this day, Jordan's Iowa City team comes up short in its game against Cedar Rapids, but you wouldn't have known it afterwards.

With high fives and hugs to go around, the only thing that mattered is that Jordan and his teammates are doing what they love.

"I know this is Jordan's passion.  Since he couldn't play on a team in high school, this is an outlet for what his passion is, and I just love it," Haganman said.

The tournament is in its 25th year and featured basketball, power lifting, cheerleading, and gymnastics.

Organizers say the weekend's activities were made possible by more than 700 volunteers.

The more than one thousand athletes participating was a record.

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