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Miles City Bandits build lifelong friendships through Special Olympics

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Posted at 3:54 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 18:13:51-04

MILES CITY — Something is brewing in cowboy country.

Both Miles City Bandits adult and youth Special Olympics teams are rolling in the accolades. Last year the youth team was recognized as the program of the year, and the adult team followed suit this year with Brooke Hollowell also garnering coach of the year.

“It's been a passion of mine since I've been in high school. I coached through college and grad school. I'm a speech therapist, so I work in the field with the athletes in their school world," Hollowell said. "For me, every day. I think that's important for me and it's something I want to wake up and do. It's an important part of my life."

It’s been hard work for Hollowell and Maria Schock to bring life back into the Special Olympics community in Miles City, and their athletes are reaping the rewards.

“I was kind of excluded from the other activities I was in by my peers. I didn't feel really included. I just thought, 'What if there's something, something out there for people like me that I could be a part of?'" athlete ambassador Katie Pickering said.

“I think in Miles City with our tight-knit community, we're really trying to provide that opportunity. It's hard to make friends. It's hard to find social opportunities. For us, that's what we want to create here," Hollowell said.

That inclusive atmosphere has been a focal point for Schock and Hollowell’s Bandits teams, as it’s fostered life-long relationships among the athletes.

“It's huge. Our athletes hang out with each other outside of our sports seasons, too. They've created these bonds that they go to the movies together and hang out together and do all kinds of other things together because they've created their friendships through these teams," Schock said.

If you’re in Miles City, you just might catch these Bandits out on the town.