Athletes Earn Medals At National Special Olympics

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A trio of Rim Country residents were among the 3,000 Special Olympians and 2,000 volunteer coaches who participated in the Special Olympics USA National Games held on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

Joey Van Ravensway and Todd Orr earned berths in the national games held July 2 to 7 with their performances last spring in the Arizona State Games. Ruby Lane was selected as aquatics coach for the Arizona SO team.

Van Ravensway responded to the national challenge by winning three medals in the racewalk events. In the 400, he took a gold medal and in the 800 and 1500 meters he won silver medals.

"Joey said he had a great time but the competition was tougher than he thought it was going to be," Lane said.

Orr was first in the shot put and fourth in the 400-meter dash.

For the games, Team Arizona qualified 62 athletes, coaches and support staff.

In all, the team won 24 gold medals, 27 silver, 15 bronze medals and numerous ribbons.

Following the games, Lane lauded the hosts for staging a first-class competition.

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Joey Van Ravensway shows his stuff in the racewalk events at the Special Olympics World Games. In those events, he won three medals -- a gold and two silvers.

"Iowa did a terrific job hosting the games and the volunteers who were available to help were fantastic," she said. "We had a great time but it was a lot of work."

The games tipped off with the traditional opening ceremonies that included a parade of athletes, music by Hootie and the Blowfish, speeches by dignitaries and athletes and the arrival of the Special Olympics torch.

Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver attended and Tom Arnold was the master of ceremonies, Lane said.

Team Arizona departed for the games aboard a Cessna Citation corporate jet that picked them up at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and flew them to Des Moines, Iowa.

The Cessna Aircraft Company organized the move to get the athletes to the games, calling it "one of the largest private airlifts in aviation history."

The airlift involved more than 230 Cessna Citations, which landed or took off every 60 to 90 seconds, for a 12-hour period, turning Des Moines International Airport into one of the busiest airports in the country that day. The next Special Olympics World Games will be held October 2007 in Japan.

-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail mfoster@payson.com.

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