COLUMBUS - The athletes from Special Olympics Area 9 did well during the state Special Olympics, held June 28-30 at Jesse Owens Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University.
Special Olympians from the area had competed in a prequalifying round May 4 at Harding Stadium in Steubenville. Athletes from Jefferson, Belmont, Tuscarawas, Muskingum, Holmes, Harrison, Carroll and Guernsey counties competed in the event at Harding and then went on to the state games. The goal for the state competition was to compete while having fun and building self-esteem at the same time, according to Janie Bodo, Special Olympic coordinator for Jefferson County.
"Opening ceremonies were held in Jesse Owens Stadium, with an athletes' parade, music and (officers from) the Ohio State Highway Patrol running the torch into the venue," said Bodo. "(June 28) after opening ceremonies, Michael Melko competed in the 25-meter independent walk. He came in second, winning a silver medal."
THE BELLES OF BOCCE — The Belles of Bocce, including, from left, Lori Heckathorn, Anne Maple and the Bocce Babes, including Kristen McGlone and Linda Utzler, both finished fourth in their divisions during the Ohio Special Olympics competition, held June 28-30 at Jesse Owens Stadium on Ohio State University campus. All four athletes from Area 9 earned the right to advance to the state games after competing during a prequalifier round May 4 at Harding Stadium in Steubenville. - Contributed
Bodo said on the morning of June 29 bocce teams began competition, and both women's doubles teams from Area 9 - the Belles of Bocce, consisting of Lori Heckathorn and Anne Maple, and the Bocce Babes, consisting of Kristen McGlone and Linda Utzler - finished in fourth place in their divisions.
"Also, on Saturday our men competed in the softball throw," Bodo continued. "Both Michael Melko and Ben Brown came in second place in their divisions, earning silver medals. Joey Carroll won a bronze for his third-place win in his division as well."
June 29 also was filled with fun activities for all athletes in attendance, Bodo said. Many athletes spent time in "Tent Town," where activities include free games as well as free health screenings, snacks, drinks and sno-cones, she added.
"After dinner, the athletes attended a dance at the beautiful Ohio Union, where athletes from all over the state came together for a fantastic time of dancing and fun," Bodo said. "(June 30) was the last day of competition, with Ben Brown running in the 100-meter dash and placing second for a silver medal, while Joey Carroll ran in the 50-meter dash finishing in fourth place.
"I am so proud of our athletes," continued Bodo. "They gave it their all in every competition throughout the weekend and competed in the spirit of good sportsmanship. Jefferson County should be honored to have these athletes represent our area at such a wonderful and exciting competition. I would like to thank all of the coaches for their dedication in preparing our athletes all season long. I would also like to thank the families and service providers of the athletes for all of their support as well. It was such an honor to be at summer games with a wonderful group of athletes and coaches."