Send off for athletes representing St. Joe County in Special Oly - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Send off for athletes representing St. Joe County in Special Olympics Summer Games

Joe Grooms will compete this weekend in Terre Haute at the 2014 Indiana Summer Games Joe Grooms will compete this weekend in Terre Haute at the 2014 Indiana Summer Games
Some excited St. Joseph County athletes gathered at the Logan Center in South Bend Thursday evening.  They eagerly waited to board a bus that was set to take them to the 2014 Special Olympics Indiana Summer Games in Terre Haute.

Over 60 athletes will represent St. Joseph County during the 45th annual Summer Games which run June 6th-8th.  There are eight sports to compete in which are aquatics, bocce, bowling, cycling, horseshoes, powerlifting, track and field and volleyball.

Joe Grooms will be in a swimming competition this weekend, He says he's competed in about 10 summer games. "Just the whole experience of going down there and doing it is a lot of fun," Grooms said.

Sports Director Tom Flatt of the St. Joseph County Special Olympics has been with the organization for over 30 years.  His son has been a regular participant at the Summer Games. He says there is one things that is clear from all his visits to the games. "They work so hard and it means so much to them. Because of their disabilities and so forth this means an awful lot to them," Flatt said.

Jose Newman will compete in Track and Field events over the weekend. He says he wasn't feeling any nerves for his upcoming competitions.  “I like doing it for fun," he said.

Newman will compete in the games for the third time.  He has won some medals in the past, bust says that's not his favorite part of competing. "Seeing other people win and seeing the smile that the have on their face,” Newman said.

That message resonated with everyone gathered at the Logan center parking lot in including Head Coach for the track team Tom Werst. He says his favorite part of the competition is being around the athletes. "Just the joy that they have. The participation of being with their friends, the comradery, that's what it's all about," Werst said.

The athletes had a police escort as they began their trip to Terre Haute. They hope to return to St. Joseph County with some hardware in hand. "We'll try to bring home the gold and stuff and bring home some ribbons too, but I'm going to have fun," swimming competitor Theodore Erving said.

There will be over 2,500 athletes competing this weekend at Indiana State University. Once this weekend's games are over, Jose Newman will make his way to New Jersey to compete nationally. The 2014 USA games begin on June 14th.

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