Red Lodge Special Olympians go to Summer State Games
By Cindy Luoma
Thursday, May 31, 2018
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Courtesy photos

Montana Highway Patrol Officer presents Katherine Collins her medal.

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Bryan Whitaker earns the Bronze medal in the 50m Slalom.

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Tracy Wrobel, Katherine Collins and Susan Littlenest with their medals.

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(Second from left) Susan Littlenest takes the Silver medal.

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(Second from left) Jesse Stoecker places 2nd.

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Superhero dance to celebrate the games.

The Red Lodge Special Olympians traveled to Great Falls, Montana and joined over 1,000 athletes from across the state of Montana  to compete in the State Summer Games on May 16-18. Special Olympic athletes from Red Lodge competed in golf, Bocce, wheelchair events, and track and field events. Athletes competing were Jesse Stoecker, Kelli Luoma, Lloyd Makes Coldweather, Katherine Collins, Bryan Whitaker, Susan Littlenest, and Tracy Wrobel. Following eight weeks of rigorous training, they were ready to demonstrate their skill in intense competition.

Jesse Stoecker and Kelli Luoma kicked off the competition on Wed, May 16th with the golf competition.  Jesse competed in the individual golf skills competition and won a silver medal. Kelli competed in the women’s 9-hole golf competition and earned a gold medal. The Games were officially opened on Wednesday evening at Opening Ceremonies with the parade of athletes and the lighting of the Olympic Torch.

On Thursday, Katherine Collins and Bryan Whitaker competed in the wheelchair races and slalom courses.  Katherine earned a silver medal in the 10-meter wheelchair race and Bryan won a bronze and a fourth place ribbon on the 30m and 50m slalom races for motorized wheelchairs.  Meanwhile, the rest of the team competed in Unified Bocce. Bocce is a lawn ball sport dating back to the ancient Roman Empire. Each Special Olympian had a unified partner and played two games against other unified teams from across the state.  Lloyd Makes Coldweather and Rich Luoma won a silver medal, Kelli Luoma and Alayna Smith placed fourth, Susan Littlenest and Cortney Lynde brought home the Gold medal and Tracy Wrobel and Sahara Erickson won the Silver medal.

On Friday, Special Olympic athletes braved the rainy weather and competed in the track and field event.  Jesse Stoecker, Tracy Wrobel and Susan Littlenest competed in the 50-meter walk. Tracy earned a silver medal, Susan won a Silver medal and Jesse earned a 4th place ribbon. Lloyd Makes Coldweather ran the 100m sprint and earned a 4th place ribbon.

Highlights of the State Summer Games for the athletes includes the intense competition as well as the fanfare of the Opening Ceremonies, the fun and friends at the Superhero dance and carnival, a special dine-out dinner, and the joy of making new friends.

The games are made possible through the hard work and thousands of volunteer hours from dedicated individuals from across the state and from Great Falls in particular. Red Lodge Special Olympians express their sincere appreciation and thanks to the volunteers, sponsors and donors from Red Lodge who have made this experience of year-round sports training and competition possible.