Special Olympics


Q2 AOW: Family feel of Billings Thunder helps Special Olympians transition to life after high school

Posted at 11:48 AM, May 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-04 13:48:30-04

BILLINGS — With Special Olympics on the horizon, we take a look at one of our local teams, the Billings Thunder. The Thunder are for adults aged 18-24 to help them transition into life after high school.

A few of our athletes touched on the strength of the relationships they’ve built as part of the Thunder.

“With the rest of the team, I get to hang out with my friends and my coach. My dad tells me he's proud of me," said Ty Graf.

“I see it as a family where it's special needs kids who come together, help each other out, who can open up and do athletics," said Johnny Degele.

Degele has a championship to defend, as he’s hoping to add another cycling title to his resume. But he’s never prepared for how his legs feel following the race.

“Actually, one year I got off the bike and my legs were all wimpy, so my dad had to carry me off the field," Degele said. "I didn't care at the time, I was just too tired. So he carried me off the field, and I was like, 'Yay! Thank you dad!'"

These athletes need fuel to compete at the best of their abilities, and what better than a home-cooked meal. But what takes the cake?

“Spaghetti and Lasagna," said Lance Larson. "Sometimes we have potatoes mixed with hot dogs."

“On a good summer day it's kind of like burgers. My dad has a Traeger at home, so we get to Traeger our own burgers. Traeger hot dogs, and we even tried to Traeger our own pizza. It didn't turn out so good, we burnt it," said Degele.

Sounds like a pre-game meal of champions.