For more than 30 Rim country competitors and another 2,000 from around the state, year-round Special Olympics competition wraps up this weekend at Arizona's 34th Annual Summer Games.
Competition began yesterday (Thursday) at Tempe Desert Vista High School, but opening ceremonies will continue until 7 p.m. today (Friday).
Action in track and field, gymnastics, indoor athletics, power-lifting, tennis, basketball and cheerleading continues throughout the weekend.
Payson will send a contingent of seven athletes coached by Cindy Rogers to the track and field events.
For the gymnastic events, coach Becky Derwort has entered six local Olympians.
In basketball, coach Annie Spencer will have five athletes participate in team events and another nine entered in the individual skills.
Spencer also will coach a crew of four local power lifters, which includes former Special Olympics Athlete of the Year Tim Meeske. A longtime Special Olympian and Payson High School graduate, Meeske is eagerly looking forward to the games.
"It should be a lot of fun," he said.
Officials estimate that more than 2,500 volunteers and coaches will be on hand in Tempe to ensure the games go off without a hitch.
Special Olympics Arizona provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in 20 different sports for more than 7,000 disabled adults and children throughout the state of Arizona. All events are free and open to the public.
Rim athletes entered include Chrissy Wiley, Robbie Gable, Mariah Cole, David Frohme, Jacqueline McDowell, Melody Montbleau, John Sexton, Val Knoble, Gary Bonn, Dana Qualls, Betty Carter, John Ditzhazy, Eric Fisher, Lawrence Graham, Anthony Orozco, Scott Palmer, Rebecca Radimaker, Travis Radimaker, Anthony Saba, Jerry Shank, Richard Shaw, Debbie Tedford, Heather Werlinger, Jane Crawford, Misty Smith, Holly Smith, Micaela Medlock, Cassie Byers, Sonya Soto, Sharon Cheek, Rachel Pierce and Stefani Robison.