Local organizations help athletes prepare for Summer Games

Saige Heyer

It takes a lot of time, effort and dedication for the Special Olympics athletes to prepare for the State Summer Games.

The people that help them prepare put in just as much time, effort and dedication as the athletes. A few of the people who help donate their time and money to help the athletes include The Arc of Story County and Kingland Systems.

The Arc of Story County is a non-profit organization established in 1953 to help individuals with disabilities. Its programs and special events are designed to increase involvement between the individuals and the community.

One of the programs The Arc offers is Active LifeStyles, which is coordinated by Cierra Freeman.

Active LifeStyles provides social and recreational events for individuals with disabilities. Freeman said their youngest athlete is 18 years old, but the majority of the athletes range from 25-40 years old. This is because many of the schools already provide programs to help the younger children.

Active LifeStyles has six athletic practices every week. Five of these athletes — cycling, track, soccer, swimming and bocce — will be participating in the Summer Games later this week.

Volunteering only takes a few hours a week since each sport practices once or twice a week for about an hour. The equipment is provided and practices are in the Ames area, usually close to campus.

During the Summer Games, Kingland Systems will be hosting the Olympic Festival, which will be held in the parking lot on the south side of Lied Recreation Athletic Center.

“I explain to people that the Olympic Festival is a carnival atmosphere for the athletes and their families to participate between or after their events,” said Mike Kromminga of Kingland Systems.

High school and middle school students as well as Kingland Systems staff members will be leading the activities and crafts.

Summer Games Committee Chair Matt Wenger said some of the activities include arts and crafts, cookie decorating, a balloon lady, face painting and the ISU Juggling and Unicycling Club. Snacks and beverages will also be provided.

“I look forward to the games kicking of this week and having a successful Olympic Festival,” Kromminga said.

Kromminga helped at last year’s festival and is this year’s coordinator for the Olympic Festival, which has taken place for many years.