Preparing for the games

It’s easy to see that Bryce Blackburn and Dennis Bahrenfuss are excited for Friday to arrive. They both smile when they talk about the hard work, practice and determination it takes to get ready for competition, but they also admit that making friends and having fun is a very big part of the why they are involved in Special Olympics.

Friday, the two young men will join several other Webster City Middle Schoolers and other Special Olympics athletes from all over Hamilton County as they travel to Ames for the Iowa Special Olympic games. The middle school students competed in regional competition in Fort Dodge earlier this spring and now join Olympians from all over the state.

“I think Special Olympics is pretty fun,” said Blackburn. He’ll have a busy day on Friday as he will compete in the softball throw, a relay and running. His favorite event is running.

“I’m a really fast runner,” he said.

Bahrenfuss will take part in the relay, running and tennis ball throw and he said he looks forward to the trip to Ames with his fellow athletes.

“There’s lots of fun stuff to Ames,” he said, adding that his group plans to have dinner following the track and field events at an Ames restaurant.

Before the group heads to Ames on Friday, they will have a chance to witness the arrival of the Special Olympics torch on Thursday. Representatives of the police, sheriff’s department, Iowa State Patrol, Department of Criminal Investigation, corrections workers, dispatchers and jailers will put on their running shoes to bring the torch to Webster City. At 10 a.m., they are scheduled to escort the torch into the Webster City Middle School where there will be a special ceremony to honor the torch runners and the athletes from across the county. Following the ceremony, there will be a parade of athletes down Des Moines Street. The public is invited to attend to cheer on the athletes.

Carrying a torch

Law enforcement officers across the United States carry the Special Olympics Flame of Hope on intrastate relays, running for a cause to bring the torch to the opening ceremonies of the state summer games.

In Hamilton County, local organizers said law enforcement has been involved in the torch run since 1991.

“The first year we had 10 runners,” said LuAnn Jackson. “Last year we had 22 and this year there are 43 signed up to run.”

In Iowa, more than 50 law enforcement departments across the state participate in the intra-state relay and various fundraising projects, like Polar Plunges, Tip a Cop, Truck Convoy and T-shirt sales. Hamilton County Law Enforcement also has the distinction of being one of the top money raisers through Torch Run T-shirt sales. Jackson said the group raises more than $3,000 on the T-shirt sales. She added that shirts are still available and can be obtained by contacting her at 832-2965.