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Local Athletes and Coach Earned Their Way to National Special Olympics

Special Olympics Arkansas has announced the team that will represent the state as Team Arkansas at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, and among this team will be three student athletes and one coach from Mena. Among Team Arkansas will be Mena High School students Maddie Fletcher and Jesse Ezell, and PCDC member Krista Carstens. MHS Independent Living Teacher Elizabeth Thompkins will serve as a coach on Team Arkansas.

Fletcher was chosen to compete in swimming, Ezell in flag football, and Carstens in athletics. These athletes competed with many others in tryouts over the summer, with hopes of being selected to represent Team Arkansas.

“We are beyond super stoked at this opportunity,” Thompkins said, after learning of the list that was named to Team Arkansas. “We’re proud to be part of Team Arkansas and representing our state, and we’re really looking forward to going to Seattle next summer to compete.”

The Special Olympics USA Games will be held in Seattle, Washington, July 1-6, 2018. The 125 member Team Arkansas includes 72 athletes, 23 Unified Partners, and 30 coaches who will compete in eleven sports at the Games, including softball, basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, powerlifting, soccer, swimming, track and field, stand up paddle boarding.

Team Arkansas is a diverse team from all over the state, with athletes and coaches from all areas of Arkansas. Visit our website http://www.specialolympicsarkansas.org/2018-usa-games.html for the full team list and their home towns. Mena is part of the Area 14 Special Olympics.

“USA Games is a fantastic way for our athletes and coaches to represent Arkansas on a larger scale,” said Special Olympics Arkansas CEO Terri Weir. “We are excited to spend the next year preparing to compete. We hope that the entire state of Arkansas will get behind our team. Be a fan of Team Arkansas and I promise our athletes will exceed your expectations.”

Arkansas athletes have a history of success at USA Games. The 130 member delegation brought back 167 medals from 2014 USA Games in New Jersey. In addition to high performance at competition Arkansas is no stranger to trying new sports. In 2014 Arkansas entered a team in Unified Sprint Triathlon where we brought home the gold. 2018 will mark our first team for stand up paddle boarding, led by Coach James Winnen.

The total cost of sending Team Arkansas to the 2018 USA Games is will be $200,000, $8,000 of which will be needed for Mena’s athletes. They will have several fundraisers coming up on the local level. Stay tuned to the Polk County Pulse, MyPulseNews.com and KENA 104.1FM for fundraising information as it becomes available. For information about how you can help sponsor the team or to make a donation, contact Camie Powell camie@specialolympicsarkansas.org 501-771-0222 or 501-786-9029.

The 2018 USA Games are the fourth such games in Special Olympics history. Past USA Games were held in 2006 in Ames, Iowa; 2010 in Lincoln, Neb.; and in 2014 in New Jersey. Athletes will stay on the University of Washington campus during the Games and most of the competition venues will be at the University.

The 2018 USA Games will bring together more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia to compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. Thousands of volunteers and spectators will also be a part of the Games. The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will celebrate the Special Olympics movement and its 50th anniversary; promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport; and showcase athletes from throughout the U.S. and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. The 2018 USA Games will also highlight Special Olympics’ work in sport, education, health and community-building.

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