Three-thousand Special Olympics athletes will be in Ames this next week to participate in the first-ever Special Olympics U-S-A National Games. Twenty-one-year-old Matt LaRue of Des Moines will participate in bowling, softball, track and field events and golf. But LaRue says it’s the chance to make new friends that has him excited about next week’s events.
“In 2001 I had the opportunity to go to Anchorage, Alaska to participate in the Special Olympics Winter World Games,” LaRue says. “I came home with two silver medals and a fifth-place ribbon. I took my first airplane trip. I hiked in the mountains. I saw a dog sled race. I made friends from all over the world.”
LaRue says he loves being part of the “Special Olympics family” and he particularly enjoys bowling because it’s something he can do with his friends. LaRue — who also participated in speed skating at the 2005 Winter World Games in Nagano, Japan — says the most important thing he’s learned from Special Olympics is how to be a good sport.
“Win or lose, I always shake hands with my fellow athletes. They have worked hard to get there just like me,” LaRue says. “I am so thankful for all the people who have helped me and my fellow athletes when we go to Special Olympics events. Let our dreams come true.” The Special Olympics U-S-A National Games will begin July 2nd and conclude the 7th.