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Special Olympic athletes play for the pure love of the game

Posted at 6:46 PM, Feb 23, 2018

HELENA – With the Winter Olympics wrapping up here this weekend, I stopped by a practice for another group of Olympic athletes who are always competing for the right reasons.

The Winter Olympics may be wrapping up in South Korea, but back here at home our Special Olympic athletes are far from done.

The West Mont Dragons in Helena, like their counterparts competing overseas are dedicated to training and preforming at the top of their game.. But for them it’s not about endorsement deals or metals… it actually means a little more.

“I just love it,” athlete Suzie Hull said with smile.

“These guys don’t care if we win or lose, which is fantastic,” Westmont coach Janell Popp said. “At the end of the day they just want to play and be part of the team.”

And those teams reach a little farther than the ones competing in the games.

“I think my favorite part is when we’re at games and another player falls down and they all come and help pick them up,” continued Popp. “They pass the ball to each other, even if they’re not on the same team, to help guys score. They’ve handed it to the ref, so it’s just really great.”

“I think that the competition comes second,” one of the athlete’s nephews Corbin Arbizzani said. “It’s being there with each other and in that atmosphere that’s really waht’s important to them. That they’re there and supporting each other.

That is the true spirit of sports and what makes the Special Olympics so special. Athletes competing for the pure joy of the game and working with one another.

“They have a tremendous respect for each other and just the comradely, you know,” Susie’s mom Louise told us. “They’re like, you know, not really competing against each other. They’re there to help each other.”

But athlete Amber Kuntz summed it up best saying, “It’s fun. I love doing it”.