Three members of Juneau's Special Olympics Alaska program will be competing for the United States team when Anchorage hosts the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games in March.
The three athletes -- snowshoer Sara Muehlberg and snowboarders John Magalotti and Niall Johnson -- were part of Juneau's contingent at the Special Olympics Alaska 2000 State Summer Games in Anchorage last weekend when Alaska spots on the U.S. team were announced. Magalotti, who was serving as one of the masters of ceremonies for Sunday's closing ceremonies, got to announce his own name.
Eighteen athletes from Juneau competed in the State Summer Games, earning 29 gold medals in swimming and track and field events. Contingents from Ketchikan, Sitka, Prince of Wales Island and Yakutat also competed at the State Summer Games.
``Everybody did their best,'' Juneau area director Mary Gore said. ``Some got gold. Some got participation ribbons. But everybody did their best and that's what counts.''
The Special Olympics Alaska program is part of an international Special Olympics program that provides sports training and athletic competition in a variety of sports for people with mental disabilities.
The international Special Olympics program was created in the 1960s when President John F. Kennedy and his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, began a crusade for the rights of those with mental retardation. It was revealed that another sister, Rosemary Kennedy, suffered from the disability. The first International Special Olympics Games took place in Chicago in 1968, the same year Alaska began its Special Olympics program. Alaska's first Special Olympics state games took place in 1969 in Fairbanks.
Of the Juneau athletes at the State Summer Games June 9-11, Magalotti won gold medals in all four of his swimming events. Justin Roberts, who lit the torch to open the games, won five gold medals and picked up a participation ribbon in track and field events, while Sabrina Richmond won four gold medals and a silver in track and field.
Rachel Dutton won a gold, a silver, two bronze medals and a participation ribbon in track and field events. Anne Eichorst won a silver medal, a fourth-place ribbon and a participation ribbon in swimming. Rachelle Flansaas claimed a gold, a silver, three bronze medals, two fourth-place ribbons and a fifth-place ribbon in swimming and track events. Robert Frick, who pulled a hamstring in the 100 meters, won two bronze medals, a fifth-place ribbon and a participation ribbon in track.
Gina Frickey claimed two matched sets of medals - two gold, two silver and two bronze medals - in track events. Jessica Gilbert earned three golds, two silvers, a bronze medal, a fourth-place and a fifth-place ribbon in swimming and track events. Mike Godkin won two gold and two bronze medals in swimming. Kelly Haynie won two gold and two silver medals in swimming.
Johnson claimed a gold, three silvers, a bronze medal and fifth-place ribbon in track. Jacob Mallinger earned two silver, three bronze medals and a fourth-place ribbon in track. Muehlberg won two gold, three silver and three bronze medals in swimming and track events. Melvin Starr won a gold and three silver medals in swimming. Lauro Untalasco won a gold and three bronze medals in swimming. Nathan Walsh won three bronze medals, two fourth-place ribbons and a participation ribbon in track.
The Ketchikan Ravens unified basketball team, which featured both disabled athletes and their able-bodied partners, placed seventh. The team included athletes Joshua Cohen, Maryann Jensen, Travis Mackie, Jonathan Williams and Stephanie Williams, plus unified partners Derek Clark, Adam Gregg, Matthew Hanson and Sarah Nichols.
Ketchikan also had athletes competing in track, swimming and basketball skills events. Brittani Budge won a silver medal in basketball skills, plus two bronze medals and a participation ribbon in swimming. Jamie Fitzgerald won four golds and one silver medal in track. Taylor Gregg won two silvers and four bronze medals in swimming and track. Joseph Peterson earned two golds, a silver, two bronze medals and a fourth-place ribbon in swimming and track. Jay Smith won two silvers and a bronze medal in swimming. And Holly Turley won a bronze medal in basketball skills.
Sitka's basketball team of Nancy Froust, John Jacobs, Barbara Kitka, Nick Pappa, Leslie Pellett and Danny Spackman claimed a bronze medal in its division. The only other Sitka athlete, Mary Ann James, won two gold medals, a fourth-place and a sixth-place ribbon in track and field events.
The Prince of Wales team featured four athletes in track and field events. Justin Harmon won two gold and two silver medals; Scotty Hoyt won two gold and two silver medals plus a participation ribbon; Frederick Peratrovich Jr. won a gold and three bronze medals; and Tyler Savage earned two fourth-place and one participation ribbons.
Daniel Endicott represented Yakutat, and won three gold medals in track and field events and a silver medal in basketball skills.
Gore said the next Juneau Special Olympics program will be bowling, which is a 10-week program that begins in late August. Juneau Special Olympic athletes wanting to compete in the program can contact Gore at the following address: Special Olympics Alaska-Juneau, P.O. Box 22124, Juneau, Alaska, 99802.
Special Olympic athletes in other Southeast communities should contact Special Olympics Alaska at 1-888-499-7625 to find out how to contact their local area coordinator.