GREAT FALLS – Quite the welcome party was thrown at the Great Falls Airport on Saturday to welcome home a dozen of Montana’s accoladed superstars. Twelve Montana Athletes traveled to Seattle for six days and competed in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Summer games. The athletes arrived back into the Treasure State on Saturday, and they were welcomed back like heroes with a cheerleader welcome, signs, family, friends and hugs all around.
“It’s an honor, literally it’s an honor to do this,” said Helena’s Ellen Bischoff. “It’s so amazing, it’s so amazing that we got to do this opportunity. It’s so incredible, it’s so incredible.”
“I’m feeling emotional because I wasn’t expecting to see everybody coming and welcoming us home,” said Jen Mazur of Great Falls. “I sure missed being in Montana, but also I miss being back in Seattle because I made a lot of new friends. Just walking around campus, it was a lot of fun just seeing everybody there.”
Every Montana Special Olympics athlete returned with either a gold, silver or bronze medal in their event. But that really didn’t matter; what did was the fun they had while there. Fireworks, concerts, making new friends, plus the support they received the entire way, meant everything.
“It’s very nice to know that everyone has their own personal fulfillment and they were able to reach their own goals. At the same time, I know that everyone at Special Olympics was more worried about having fun, which is what it’s all about,” said Polson’s Michael Vergeront.
“I think everyone is just happy with their medals and having fun,” said Polson’s Chance Hoover.
“It’s wonderful seeing those expressions on everyone’s faces. Just being so excited to bring home this hardware,” said Mazur. “Just being so excited that people are supporting us, getting us to be where we are and just helping us to be the best that we can be.”
At the end of the day, everyone was proud to represent the great state of Montana.
“I’m so proud of myself,” said Mazur. “I’m really happy to be a Special Olympics athlete. Go, Team Montana!”
For more on team Montana’s final results from the Olympic Games, click here.