Special Olympic Athletes Hit State

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A 16-member team will represent Northern Gila County in the Arizona State Special Olympics Summer Games.

The competition will be held May 4 to 6 in Sun Angel Stadium, White Tennis Facility and Wells Fargo Arena on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

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A band of local Special Olympics athletes will represent Payson in the Arizona State Games May 4 to 6 in Tempe.

Payson athletes are entered in track and field and gymnastics. The statewide event tips off with the traditional Arizona Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Payson is in leg two of the four-leg torch run, which means the torch will begin at Four Corners and pass through the Rim Country May 4 before culminating in Tempe. There, a law enforcement officer will pass the torch to an athlete who uses it to light the Flame of Hope. The flame burns throughout the Special Olympics games.

The pledge money earned during the run and other law enforcement events during the year, help athletes compete nationally in World Summer and Winter Games. In Tempe, where an Olympic Village will be set up, there will be opening ceremonies and a closing victory dance. Local Special Olympics coach, Ruby Lane, said the athletes are well prepared for the upcoming competition.

"The team has been in training two times a week since mid-February," she said.

"They are excited and ready to go."

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