ST. MARYS — A group of Auglaize County athletes recently celebrated their achievements from when they competed in a statewide competition earlier this season.
Auglaize County Special Olympics athletes were recognized by their peers for the achievements they netted during the 42nd annual Special Olympics Ohio State Summer Games held in Columbus in late June during a recent banquet in St. Marys.
“We took approximately 52 athletes this year,” Special Olympics Chair Dave Axe said.
This year’s summer games included 11 sports — aquatics, athletics (track and field), bocce, cycling gymnastics, power lifting, roller skating, soccer, tennis, volleyball and bowling.
“They enjoy the camaraderie and the excitement,” Axe said. “Just being able to do the program is what they really enjoy.”
Axe noted the local athletes received 21 gold medals, 16 silver medals, 17 bronze medals, 15 fourth-place awards, 10 fifth-place awards and one sixth-place award. For bowling, the team took home three gold medals, two silver medals, a bronze medal and a fourth place award.
“They look forward to it every year,” Axe said of the games.
The summer games also included movies, recreational clinics and the annual opening ceremonies, which included the lighting of the Olympic Flame of Hope, followed by a dance and a fair. It kicked off the evening of June 24 at Ohio Stadium, and more than 2,600 participants competed in the weekend program.
“The competition is always good — just to see the achievement of what they can do,” Axe said of the games. “They’re just happy to be able to participate. It’s a good experience for them.”
Currently, the local athletes are gearing up for their winter season.
“We’re going into basketball, which starts in November, swimming, which begins in mid-September, and bowling, which will be starting up soon,” Axe said. “The state has numerous other sports they can participate them, but that we can’t do — like alpine skiing.”
Special Olympics, he noted, is a way for the athletes to enjoy each other’s company, as well.
“They all enjoy it,” he said. “They enjoy meeting everybody. They just enjoy doing it.”