Rectangular medals are being given to top-place finishers in Special Olympics events at the first-ever U-S-A National Games underway in Ames. While circular gold, silver and bronze medals have been awarded at past Special Olympics games, Special Olympics Iowa president Rich Fellingham says this will be a unique memento for the athletes. “We were really thrilled that Special Olympic International approved it,” Fellingham says. “They’ve never done anything other than a round medal before.” Fellingham was on the medal selection committee along with representatives from Special Olympics North America and the U-S-A National Games. Dawn Budd is creative director for Innova, the company that designed the medal which has the Special Olympics U-S-A National Games logo stamped on the front. “The logo is rectangular in shape so wanted to take advantage of using that brand recognition to play into the medal shape and design,” she says. “We’ve been working on this project for the past and we definitely know how special of an opportunity it is. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the games as we’ve put in a lot of hard work on not only the medal but the ribbon.” Athletes who do not finish first, second or third will receive a Special Olympics ribbon that also bears the imprint of the logo. “We just hope that people take away from it that it’s all about competing,” Budd says. “Winning is obviously great, too, but just competing and being able to take part in the games is a great thing and we wanted to show athletic competition as well as just empowering the whole nature of the games.” This is the first time Budd’s company has ever designed a medal and she had only seen the finished form in a picture before the games opened. She and other Innova employees were in the stands for opening ceremonies. “It’s just been a really great experience for all of us here…to help participate in preparation of the games and just getting the awareness of the Special Olympics National Games out there to the community and to the nation,” Budd says. The broad ribbons that hold the medals are red, blue, gold and white. Fellingham, the president of Special Olympics Iowa, says the ribbons also bear the slogan for these National Games: “compete.empower.unite.” “We think it is a really beautiful design and we’re so pleased that we’re able to use it,” Fellingham says. Midwest Trophy Manufacturing of Oklahoma City has been casting Special Olympics medals since 1991. Donna Lamprecht, a spokeswoman for the company, says the process of making the medals for the first-ever National Games started about six months ago. “For these games we did 2006, believe it or not, 2006 gold, silver and bronze (medals),” Lamprecht says. A total of six-thousand-18 medals will be handed out at the games. The company also produced the five-thousand ribbons which will be handed out to athletes who place foruth through eighth in competition. Every Special Olympics U-S-A National Games competitor will either get a medal or a ribbon.
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