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Area athletes look forward to summer competition

Special Olympics athlete Audrey Bergseng attempts the long jump. (Photo courtesy of JoAnn Larson)1 / 4
Pierce County Special Olympics athlete Briana Larson at the state track and field event at the State Summer Games in 2016 at UW-Stevens Point. (Photo courtesy of JoAnn Larson)2 / 4
Special Olympic athletes Jaci Fuchs (left) and Gloria Schmidt share a laugh while practicing the ball throw at practice Monday, March 27.. Practices are held at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays at the Ellsworth Middle School gymnasium. (Herald photo by Matthew Lambert)3 / 4
Pierce County Special Olympics athletes Briana Larson and Audrey Bergseng at last year's bocce ball competition. (Photo courtesy of JoAnn Larson)4 / 4

ELLSWORTH -- If you know someone who may like to compete in Special Olympics, spread the word as time is ticking to register. Practices have begun for athletes to prepare them for their summer competition.

Area athletes like Briana Larson and Audrey Bergseng have been involved with Special Olympics for years. Briana has been competing for 10 years and Bergseng since 2010.

Larson described the Special Olympics as "fun and easy" and looks forward to the competition even if she doesn't make it to state.

JoAnn Larson, Briana's mother, was hesitant to enroll her daughter into Special Olympics, but decided to after Kathy Spence, an Information & Assistance/Options Counselor for the Pierce County Human Services department, encouraged her. Spence volunteers with Special Olympics.

"It's just good socialization for them to get with all these other folks," JoAnn said.

Since getting Briana involved 10 years ago, JoAnn has noticed how much confidence Briana gains from the competition.

"It's awesome," JoAnn said. "It's a place where she can go and feel successful about whatever she does. She's accepted no matter what's going on...these adults are accepted. Everybody likes everybody."

Special Olympics Wisconsin has 160 agencies in the state and the Ellsworth Area Special Olympic group is a part of Region 3 with 18 other counties.

There are 25 athletes from Ellsworth, River Falls, Spring Valley, Plum City and Hudson that participate in bocce ball and track and field in the spring.

Larson and Bergseng participate in all of the events; Larson said she likes the ball throw in the summer and Bergseng enjoys bowling in the fall.

The athletes will participate in regional competition on May 6 in Chippewa Falls and can move on to sectional and state competition as well. The state competition is held at UW-Stevens Point June 8-10.

Practices are held on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at the Ellsworth Middle School. There is still time to register, but it needs to be soon. Athletes must get a physical before being able to compete.

Anyone interested in participating or volunteering with Special Olympics should contact Kathy Spence at 715-778-4278.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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