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Special Olympics Iowa Athletes Compete for Fun, Medals

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IOWA CITY, Iowa- The 26th Annual Mid-Winter Tournament hosted more than 900 Special Olympics Iowa athletes. Those athletes have intellectual disabilities. The two day event in Iowa City started Friday with a banquet and dance. Saturday, featured the big event, competition day.

"The turnout is always fantastic," Bryan Halverson said.

Hundreds of Special Olympics Iowa athletes, coaches and family filled the Field House at the University of Iowa. Some of it was just for fun. But others trained all year just for the chance to compete.

"They want to win the gold medal so they're very competitive," said Special Olympics Iowa Interim President Rich Fellingham.

For the Halverson twins from Gilbertville, it's a 16-year tradition their mom and dad help continue each year.

"They always get so excited for it and each event they're in, they love practicing for it and getting prepared for this event and this is kind of the main event," said Halverson.

"I've been trying to get him into basketball and now he's doing it," Richard Tinto, one of the parents, said.

It's a picture perfect finish for Tinto's son who got a new piece of jewelry to drape around his neck as his father gladly hoisted him up on his shoulders.

"I just enjoy coming to these events so I can watch him do his best," Tinto said.

It's a celebration shouting out 'yes we can do it too.'

"Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt," Fellingham said.

Organizers say Special Olympics Iowa sees more athletes each year serving more than 11,000 across the state. The biggest event in the state is the summer games in Ames.

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