Special Olympians combine for 33 medals at state track meet
by Missy Thompson
Jun 10, 2008 | 544 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Tooele County Giants celebrate after the Special Olympics Utah state track and field meet on May 29-31.<br>– photo courtesy of Cheri Gunderson
The Tooele County Giants celebrate after the Special Olympics Utah state track and field meet on May 29-31.
– photo courtesy of Cheri Gunderson
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The Tooele County Giants, a special Olympics team, competed in the state track and field meet at Brigham Young University on May 29-31 bringing home 33 medals from 11 competitors.

The team competes as part of Special Olympics Utah where at least 20 teams from around the state participate in events designed for those with special needs or disabilities.

The Giants formed a year and a half ago by Cheri Gunderson and Lisa Akers because they both had children with disabilities who couldn't participate in other sanctioned sports.

"There is a huge need for this because kids with special needs don't have the opportunity to play sports," Gunderson said. "It gives them an opportunity to play at their level."

The thing that separates the Tooele County team from others around the state is that the Giants are very family-oriented.

"All of the other teams seem to be more institute or school sponsored so they have paid employees there with a group of kids, not families," Gunderson said.

The Tooele County Giants are 100 percent family oriented

"When our athletes finish a race, they don't have a coach or whoever's helping them there," Gunderson said. "They've got their whole family and everyone else's family cheering for them. Our kids are getting a lot of positive reinforcement."

During last year's track and field meet, the Giants had only five participants. Now, with a team of 12, 11 of them were able to compete. At their region meet on May 17, all 12 athletes participated and they won a combined 52 medals in gold, silver and bronze.

Now that the track and field season is over, the Giants have moved on to swimming. After that sport is through with its regional and state meets, they will be playing bocce ball and then bowling.

"We're here to stay forever," Gunderson said. "It does take a lot of dedication and a need for parents to be there to keep their kids focused."

Special Olympics Utah is part of the world-wide Special Olympics program.

The results from the Tooele County Giants state track and field meet are as follows:

David Akers received gold medals in the long jump, 100 and 200 meter relays and a silver for the 400 meter relay.

Brett Attwood received the most medals for the Giants at the state meet with gold medals in the softball throw, 100 and 200 meter dashes and 100 meter relay. He also received a silver medal in the 400 meter relay.

Amber Bailey received a gold medal for the softball throw and a bronze for the 50 meter dash.

Cameron Gunderson received a gold medal in the softball throw, a silver in the 200 meter dash and a bronze in the 50 meter dash.

Christina Gunderson received a gold medal for the 100 meter relay, silver for the 200 meter dash and bronze for the 400 meter dash.

Michelle Jeys won a gold medal in the 100 meter relay and silver medals in the 100 and 200 meter dash.

Steven Jeys received gold medals for the 100 meter relay and silver in the 100 meter dash and bronze in the long jump and 400 meter dash.

Ashlie Mohler received a silver medal for the 50 meter dash and a bronze for the 100 meter dash.

Josue Riches received gold medals in the 200 and 400 meter dashes and the 100 meter relay.

Sharon Young received silver medals in the 25 and 50 meter walk.

Miquel Zapata received a silver medal for the softball throw and bronze medals for the 100 and 200 meter dash.

missy@tooeletranscript.com

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