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“Challengers” releases in theaters on April 26.
Review: “Challengers”
Published April 13, 2024

Bierman hosts Special Olympics games

The shine of hundreds of gold, silver and bronze medals was matched only by the bright smiles of the people wearing them Thursday afternoon. For many of Minnesota’s mentally disabled, this was their day in the sun.
And over the background music of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” and the humming of a golf cart motor, hoots and laughter were the predominant sounds.
The 26th annual Minnesota Special Olympics State Summer Games took over Bierman Field on Thursday. The tents of Olympic Village will remain until the closing ceremony Saturday afternoon.
About 1,000 mentally disabled athletes from across the state, as well as about 400 coaches and 1,400 volunteers, are taking part in the event. Fifty-two athletes from this summer’s state games will go on to participate in the Special Olympics World Summer Games from June 26 to July 4 in North Carolina.
“This is one of eight statewide events that happen year-round” said Greg Vanselow, administrative assistant for Special Olympics of Minnesota. “This is one of the big ones.”
The mission of the Special Olympics is to provide year-round training and competition for children and adults with mental retardation. Event organizers said the event helps build self-esteem for disabled people.
“We consider it training for life,” Vanselow said. “It gives these people social skills to go out and become a productive member of society.”
Over the weekend, athletes will participate in six different sporting areas including cycling, equestrian and track and field. Thursday’s highlights consisted of track and field with wheelchair races and a softball throwing competition.
The Special Olympics is entirely supported by private donations and run mainly by volunteers that Vanselow called “critical to the event.”
In addition to the Olympics being vital to the athletes, volunteers also get a chance to gain valuable training from the event.
“It was good experience for a future job to come here,” said Sophia Moor, one of about 20 Job Corps volunteers working at Bierman. Job Corps is an organization that trains 16- to 24-year-olds for the job market.
“I think it’s something people should get out and do more often,” said K.C. Kulink, another Job Corps volunteer. “Seeing the smiles on the competitors’ faces really was more than enough reward.”

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