AMES - Special Olympics Iowa is a nonprofit organization serving Iowans with intellectual disabilities since 1968. SOIA serves athletes in each of Iowa's 99 counties, and provides training and competitions in 22 Olympic-type sports.
In 2008, 11,350 athletes and Unified Sports Partners participated in SOIA events and competitions. SOIA makes a positive difference in the lives of our athletes, their families and communities with more than 15,000 individuals and 2,000 certified coaches who volunteer to participate in the programs.
The mission of SOIA is "to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities, by giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community."
The 2009 State Summer Games were held May 21-23 in Ames. Approximately 2,800 athletes from across Iowa competed on the Iowa State University campus. Athletes participated in sports such as bocce, cycling, roller skating, aquatics, athletics, soccer skills, 7-on-7 team soccer, tennis, and developmental sports.
One of the local area competitors was Shelby Bechtel of Aurelia (pictured).
Shelby received a gold medal for her 25 yd. freestyle in Aquatics, and also participated in a cheerleading clinic, then performed with the cheerleading group during the opening ceremonies held in Hilton Coliseum.