AMES - More than 100 area special olympians had the opportunity to put their skills to the test and show their strength and determination as they competed at the State Special Olympics Summer Games on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames Friday.
To qualify for the state games, each participant took first place in their age division at the local level before advancing to the next level.
For the Phillips Middle School team, it had been a successful year with 10 students advancing to state in at least one of their events.
-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson-Jenson
Nathaniel Stanley, left, and his twin sister, Hannah Stanley, both members of the Phillips Middle School Special Olympics team, show off their gold medals at the state Special Olympics Summer Games in Ames Friday afternoon.
"They all took first place during districts at Dodger Stadium," said Dawn Peterson, the group's teacher and coach. "And we've been practicing with them at school."
For friends and teammates Katelynn Lindner and Hannah Stanley participating at state has become something they both look forward to each year.
Both qualified in running and field events this year, with Stanley taking first place in her division of the softball throw. She and her twin brother, Nathaniel Stanley, will continue their participation today in the 200 meter run.
"You did awesome, I knew you could do it," Lindner said as she embraced Stanley in a hug following the softball throw.
Lindner has been running in the Special Olympics for the past few years, she said, and was happy with her own fourth-place finish this year.
"I run every year here," said Lindner. "It gets harder sometimes, but it's always fun."
For Abbey Hefty, a member of the West Bend-Mallard team, it was also a good day as she raised her hands in the air, clapped and took her spot on the podium following the softball throw.
"I got second place, I got second place," she said as she ran to hug her sister.
No matter the outcome of their events, Peterson said it is a good day for all participants involved.
"It's a good day for them to just come and be with their friends," said Peterson. "They've all tried their best and are having a great time."