Iowa Special Olympians compete at world games - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Special Olympians compete at world games

From left to right; Charli Bauer, Erin Peck, Sonia Bellile, Ken Essex, Jr. and Elke Nelson From left to right; Charli Bauer, Erin Peck, Sonia Bellile, Ken Essex, Jr. and Elke Nelson

BOISE, IDAHO (KWWL) -- Five Special Olympics Iowa athletes are in Boise, Idaho this week competing in the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

The athletes are part of Team USA, which consists of 355 athletes and 85 coaches. Throughout the week-long competition, athletes will display their athletic skill, determination and courage.

Thousands of volunteers help with events like the law enforcement torch run. The participant that carried the national torch was Jeff Franzmen, of Waverly.

Last month KWWL Iowa's NewsChannel 7 featured a pair of Dubuque figureskaters that are headed to the games. Sonia Bellile and her mom Elke Nelson competed in the Special Olympics Iowa Winter Games, and are now featuring their skills in Idaho.

Athletes of all ability levels will compete in seven different Winter Olympic-type sports including: Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speed skating and floor hockey. Out of the seven sports offered, SOIA athletes will compete in three of them.

Before they left for Boise, a send-off reception was held at the state office in Grimes in their honor. In attendance were the athletes, families, friends, staff, board members and the media. The Dallas-Center Grimes cheerleaders also made an appearance and cheered for the athletes.

"This is an incredible opportunity for these athletes. They will be joined by more than 3,000 athletes from around the world. The experience, memories and friends they gain will be unforgettable," said SOIA President/CEO Mark Reed.

The mission of Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities by giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Special Olympics Iowa is a nonprofit organization serving Iowans with intellectual disabilities since 1968. SOIA provides training and competitions in 22 sports for more than 13,000 athletes representing each of Iowa's 99 counties. SOIA makes a positive difference in the lives of athletes, their families and communities with more than 15,000 individuals and 2,000 certified coaches who volunteer to participate in the programs.

Special Olympics World Games website

Opening Ceremonies Slide show

Schedule of Events

Click on the following Iowa athletes for the biographies and compeition results

Charli Bauer

Sonia Bellile

Ken Essex, Jr.

Elke Nelson

Erin Peck

Online Producer:  JJ Murray

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