Knicely Done: Special Olympics Opening Celebration
The summer games for Special Olympics Nebraska kicked off with high energy and enthusiasm Thursday night.
The evening began with the Parade of Athletes with teams representing communities throughout the state including the Chadron Rattlers who made the long trip to Omaha from the far northwest corner of the state.
Several awards were handed during the program including Female Coach of the Year to Lindsey Chicoine of Fremont. She coached their bowling team to the NSAA State Championship in 2018.
"I started Special Olympics about fourteen years ago as a volunteer," she said in an interview with WOWT 6 News. "I started a couple programs for inclusion while I was in high school. I understand that it's super important."
Chad Samuelson of the Millard Mid-City Madness was named Male Coach of the Year.
"I got started in Special Olympics because my son is nine years old and has autism," he explained. "I saw an opportunity for my compassion as a competitive athlete and to use it to help others and their sense of community. I love to see how the athletes have grown, and my son especially how he's grown and found his own community through Special Olympics."
Mark Travis has competed in the Special Olympics since 1989 in a variety of sports and has become an ambassador for Special Olympics Nebraska. He was named to the Hall of Fame Thursday night.
"I'm with the Lincoln Shooting Stars," said Travis. "We just do fun things and I hang out with my team and it's just to make friends."
Other awards were presented as well and one of the highlights was the presentation of the torch by Nebraska Law Enforcement. Members took turns running the flame across the state and with loud cheers, the Special Olympics cauldron was lit to end the ceremony.
State Trooper Sergeant Jeff Boston presented a check for the proceeds raised by Nebraska Law Enforcement throughout the year. The incredible amount of more than $350,000 will be used to further enhance the work of Special Olympics Nebraska.