OSKALOOSA — About 250 athletes from around southeast Iowa gathered at the William Penn University Penn Activities Center Saturday to compete in the Special Olympics.
Athletes tested their mettle in a variety of track and field events at the Special Olympics Iowa Southeast Area Spring Games. The games were held in the PAC and on the track at the Lacey Complex Stadium.
Opening ceremonies kicked off competition at 10 a.m.
Several speakers thanked the athletes and volunteers for making the games happen. Democratic 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack was at the games to speak and later help hand out ribbons to event winners.
Loebsack said it was good to get away from Wahington, D.C., and its partisanship to come back to Iowa for events such as Special Olympics.
“These kinds of events make it all worthwhile,” Loebsack said. The congressman added that he would work to ensure the federal budget had funding to support activities such as Special Olympics.
Vice President of Sports Operations for Iowa Special Olympics Shane Kiesner thanked the volunteers and athletes for their efforts.
“Who’s ready to got to Iowa State for the Summer Games?” he asked. He received roaring applause from the athletes in response.
Southeast Iowa Special Olympics Director Brad Benge implored the athletes to do their best with great sportsmanship.
A relay of athletes carried a torch with symbolic flames around the PAC indoor over-head track and down to the basketball courts to light a symbolic flame to start the games.
Benge said that were a variety of track and field events held at the PAC. The only event to be held at the Lacey Complex Stadium was the running long jump. At the PAC, athletes competed in events such as the 50 meter walk and dash, the 100 meter run, the softball throw, shot put, turbo javelin and the standing long jump.