Slope Special Olympians relish their day in the sun |

Slope Special Olympians relish their day in the sun

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

NEW CASTLE/SILT – Lucy and Mady Oakes, donning knee and elbow pads, patiently awaited their turn to pedal.The 14-year-old twins had arrived at Silt’s Veteran Park at 7:30 a.m. and, just after 1 p.m., remained patient, taking refuge from the sun under a tent.The downtime didn’t seem to bother the social butterflies, who were having plenty of fun making the rounds and playfully interacting with other athletes at Saturday’s Special Olympics Western Area Summer Classic.”They’re really good at meeting and greeting,” said their mother, Judy Oakes.The pair’s gregarious nature manifested shortly thereafter when, with their bicycle race on deck, the two raucously cheered on fellow competitors.”Come on! Come on!” Lucy shouted, as fellow athletes sped by on the streets flanking Veteran Park.

Life is good for the ultra-active Oakeses, the Glenwood Springs sisters who entered this world three months premature and weren’t expected to have much in the way of a life.”Every doctor said we wouldn’t be able to survive, to walk or talk,” Lucy said with a smile, knowing they’ve long since proven those doctors wrong. Instead, Lucy and Mady are living life to the fullest, with sports taking center stage. Skiing is their biggest love, but they also enjoy swimming, soccer, bowling and track and field.”We just like to be outside, hanging out with friends, getting fresh air and exercise,” Lucy said. And, the Oakes sisters are fierce competitors.”We had to get another bulletin board for all their ribbons and medals,” Judy noted.

Added Mady: “And pretty soon we’ll have to get another one.”The Oakes were just one of countless compelling stories ripe for uncovering at the yearly Western Area Summer Classic, taking place in Silt and New Castle for the first time after previously making homes of Battlement Mesa/Parachute and Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus.More than 140 athletes from Special Olympics organizations in Glenwood, Craig, Rangely, Vail and Grand Junction – and even special guests from Aurora and Colorado Springs – turned out to compete in cycling, bocce ball, tennis and golf. Everything took place in Silt except for golf, hosted by Lakota Canyon Golf Club in New Castle.Saturday’s games were a precursor to the Aug. 11-12 Special Olympics Colorado Summer Classic in Lakewood.Members of Glenwood Springs’ Special Olympics teams were on hand in full force, with athletes competing in everything but golf and tennis.While some took a short route to the games, others trekked much farther.

Tim Sharpe, who combined with golf partner Joe Elliot to shoot a 48 at Lakota, was one of several Colorado Springs Blue Dragon athletes who logged major mileage en route to the Western Slope.”It took us six hours,” said Sharpe, whose group wrestled traffic along the way.Sharpe, whose mother is a bocce ball coach for the Blue Dragons, enjoyed the challenging back nine at the Lakota Canyon course, despite an adventuresome tangle with the 18th hole. “It’s the toughest hole,” he said. “Lots of twists and turns.”At this event, it clearly didn’t matter where the athletes came from. Camaraderie sprouted instantly between members of different clubs, and with volunteers.And volunteers made the whole event possible, said area manager Julie Fite.”We rely a lot on volunteers,” she said. “There are so many great, fun community members that help. We had a good 25 people. It worked out well.”

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