Huck Special Olympics

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JEFFERSON CITY - Athletes from across Missouri are in Jefferson City to compete in the Missouri Special Olympics state outdoor games this weekend. According to Missouri Special Olympics, more than 1,000 athletes, coaches and unified partners are taking part.

The bocce tournament held at Blair Oaks High School featured 390 athletes. Blair Oaks student volunteers helped run the event.

Student Meredith Eisterhold kept score. She said she loves the atmosphere.

"This is my second year volunteering," Eisterhold said. "Seeing participants come back each year just puts a smile on my face. This is just such a happy time for me."

Diane Gillespie, executive director of the Jefferson City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said Jefferson City and Special Olympics have always had a tight bond.

"This is our fourth year hosting," Gillespie said. "We hosted for a really long time and then it went away for a while and we are so happy to have Special Olympics come back here."

Gillespie said Jefferson City is in the process of building a Training For Life campus for Special Olympics athletes to practice. She said it is a logical next step.

"Currently, athletes have to go to other campuses, other school gyms and church gyms to practice. This will be their facility specifically for them to do their training," Gillespie said.

"Team Missouri Girls" bocce ball team took first place in its division Friday. Many of the team members qualified to represent Missouri at the national level in Seattle in 2018. They said they are excited to compete and make new friends.

In addition to bocce at Blair Oaks, athletes competed in golf at Oak Hills golf course and tennis at Helias Catholic High School.

The event schedule is full for the next few days. The official outdoor games opening ceremony is Friday at 7 p.m. On Saturday, there will be a softball tournament. Sunday will be the flag football competition. 

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