Some athletes have been on the Coeur d'Alene Special Olympics team for more than a decade and have never missed a state game, but money got in the way of their Olympic dreams this year.
The athletes train for weeks, putting in hours of work to compete in one weekend of Olympic Games. This year's state games for the Winter Olympics is in Boise on March 2, but the Coeur d'Alene team had to make the tough decision to forgo the trip -- they didn't have enough money.
Of the 125 athletes on the Coeur d'Alene team, a few shared why they live for the Olympics.
“I like swimming because it's my favorite sport ever,” 18-year-old Crystal Teeters said with a big smile.
“It made me grow into the person I am today, without Special Olympics I don't think I'd be who I am right now,” 40-year-old Kirk Grogan said.
To learn there would be no games this year is a huge let down, to say the least. The team needed $10,000 to travel to Boise, but they only have $4,000.
“To kind of ease the pain we're having a big team party in two week so that should help,” coach and Local Program Coordinator Travis Anderson said.
Anderson has been with the team for four years and says there's nothing they can do at this point. So, after their party to forget what could have been, the team will begin again and focus on where they want to be.
That means more hard work training. More fundraising and, they think most importantly, raise more awareness.
“We need to get the awareness up in the community, make it grow,” Grogan said. “Make Special Olympics grow in North Idaho.”
“We have a responsibility to these athletes to provide them the opportunities, same ones as high school kids would get and that is public sports and competition,” Anderson said. “Some of it's awareness, might be the economy, but getting families involved will help.”
The team has a number of fundraisers planned to get the back on track for the summer Olympic Games. The soonest is on Saturday, March 9. The athletes will be asking for donations to take the Penguin Plunge at City Beach in Coeur d'Alene.
If you have a way to help the Coeur d'Alene Special Olympics team, call their board member Carol Peck at 209-651-7534.