Special Olympics Ore. needs more athletes

Special Olympics Ore. needs more athletes

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by David Krough

kgw.com

Posted on September 21, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Updated Saturday, Sep 22 at 9:14 AM

PORTLAND - The London Games gave us many Olympic highlights from multiple medal winners like Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas.

In Special Olympics circles in Oregon, the equivalent would be athletes like Levi Arthur and Jenny Deras.

“I love making the long shots like from half court,” said Arthur as he celebrated a three pointer.

The 17-year-old has been competing in Special Olympics Oregon since middle school.

“When I swim, they call me the next Michael Phelps. Last time I checked I had more than 18 medals,” he said with a laugh.

Jenny Deras, 29, started winning her more than 150 medals 16 years ago. She competes in basketball, skiing and track and has medaled at the World Games twice.

“What she’s learned from Special Olympics has allowed her to succeed off the court. She volunteers in a YMCA child care center because she now has the confidence,” explained her father Warren Deras.

Special Olympics Oregon hopes to find more athletes for its free programs this weekend at the Youth Games.

Children with intellectual disabilities are invited to the Saturday event on the Nike campus in Beaverton.

“We serve 10,000 athletes now, but there are 70,000 more in Oregon who could benefit,” explained Ryan Avery of Special Olympics Oregon.

Intellectual disabilities include Autism, Downs Syndrome and severe ADD.

“The medals we give out mean you did it, but when you talk to the athletes at the end of the day they focus on the fun they had and the friends they made,” concluded Avery.

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