Local athletes compete in Special Olympics in St. Peter
While the Summer Olympic games in Rio are still 100 days away, another group of local Olympic athletes have already competed and been awarded their medals.
The region’s Special Olympics were held at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter on Sunday, April 25. And, three athletes from Faribault County competed.
A.J. Wolff, of Blue Earth, Kristi Lunz, of Elmore, and Tagen Jacobsen, of Winnebago, were all part of the Martin County Area All Stars team.
“Faribault County doesn’t have their own Special Olympics team,” says Sheryl Aukes of Elmore. “So our people can participate with the Martin County team. They will welcome anybody to come participate with them.”
Aukes is Kristi Lunz’s mother and is one of the volunteer coaches and helpers for the All Stars team.
“They practiced every Sunday in March and April, then competed in the Special Olympics event,” she explains. “The practices are at Fairmont High School, with the competition for our area are at Gustavus in St. Peter.”
The team members from Faribault County did quite well. Wolff had three first place blue ribbon medals in softball throw, 50-meter walk and 100-meter walk. Lunz had a first place blue ribbon in 100-meter walk and two red second place ribbons in 200-meter walk and softball throw. Tagen took two first place medals in shot put and 4×100 relay and two red second place ribbons in 400-meter run and 800-meter run.
“It isn’t just about the winning,” Aukes explains. “It is having everyone compete, no matter their ability, and being cheered on by the crowd, no matter how they do. You should see their excitement and determination and then their big smiles.”
Besides the Special Olympic games, there is also a basketball, softball and bowling leagues for the athletes. Wolff and Jacobsen compete on the basketball and softball teams.
Aukes says her daughter participated in Special Olympics for several years when they lived in St. James.
“She would get so excited before the games that she would have a seizure,” Aukes says. “But not anymore. Now it is just something she looks forward to. We are so glad there is a team here she can now participate with.”
The Special Olympics team from Martin County was formed just three years ago, and the three Faribault County participants have been with the team all three years.
“Faribault County used to have its own team, years ago,” Aukes says. “But the rules became so strict, like for coaches, that they quit it.”
Now the rules have relaxed a bit and it is easier to form a team, she adds.
“Anyone eight years old or older, with any kind of a disability, can participate,” she says. “We are hoping to get a lot more folks from Faribault County to come and join with us.”
The Martin County Area All Stars head coaches are James and Andrea Miller of Fairmont. Anyone who would like more information on the team, or learn how to join up, can call the Millers at (507) 848-0224.