Special Olympians head to Lincoln

A Federal Way soccer team will be among 28 Special Olympics athletes to represent Washington at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games, which will take place in Lincoln, Neb. July 18-23.

The Games will host 13 Olympic-style sports and will be largest sporting event held in the history of Nebraska. Organizers expect 3,000 athletes, 1,000 coaches, 8,000 volunteers and 15,000 family members and friends to come to the state in July. The event is expected to have a $40 million economic impact, including $5 million in tax revenue.

The Federal Way all-ages soccer team is heading to Nebraska thanks to a $12,000 grant that was received by Special Olympics Washington from the United States Department of Education. The grant will help sponsor the elite soccer team.

The team includes Travis Bjork, Tyler Bjork, Cory Dempsey, John Kalvin Emmett, Roy Firstrider, Laura Gorgen, Juan Leos, Cody Peterson, Chance Ralphs, Shey Tommasen, Keith Stamper and Alexander Wells. The team is coached by Sharon Boyle, who is assisted by Terry Boyle and Angie Ramos.

Other events during the national games will include basketball gymnastics, power lifting, softball, track and field, volleyball, aquatics, bowling, golf, tennis and flag football.

This year will mark the fourth anniversary of the USA National Special Olympics Games, which were created to provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Special Olympics athletes in an Olympic environment and to promote stronger awareness and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities.

Expected guests include Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, singer/actress Vanessa Williams, figure skater Scott Hamilton and gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Connor.

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