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Pushing the limits

Special Olympic athletes compete in games at Nike campus


by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Joanna Wang gives out high-fives during basketball drills on the Nike campus for this year's Special Olympics Oregon.More than 500 Special Olympics youth participants braved the blustery weather Saturday to compete in the 2013 Special Olympics Oregon Youth Games at the Nike World Headquarters campus at Jenkins Road and Murray Boulevard.

The young competitors were cheered on by their families, more than 400 Nike volunteers and professional athletes who took part in the half-day of challenges at the Tiger Woods Center.

This unique event is designed to introduce young people with intellectual disabilities and their families to the Special Olympics experience.

To welcome the young participants, Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics Shawn Johnson and endurance athlete Sarah Reinertsen both offered inspiration to the youths.

The programs provided instruction and competition in track and field, basketball, golf and soccer. Youth participants also had a chance to receive free on-site health and wellness services, including sports physical exams and nutrition, and hearing screenings.

The day culminated with closing ceremonies at each sports venue, where each athlete received an award and recognition.

“Thanks to the Youth Games made possible by Nike’s generous ongoing support, we’ve been able to introduce the magic of sport and the Special Olympics to countless young people with intellectual disabilities,” said Margaret Hunt, CEO of Special Olympics Oregon. “The athletes taking part in this event are future Special Olympics athletes.”

Nike and Special Olympics Oregon started the Youth Games in 2007. The annual event is funded by Nike and produced in partnership by both Nike and Special Olympics Oregon.by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Special Olympics Oregon vounteer Joel Swenson gives a young competitor a hug. Hundreds of children turned out for the event, despite the blustery weather on Saturday.by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Justin Metke, right, plays a Simon Says-style game, along with his fellow olympians during the Special Olympics Oregon event at the Nike World Headquarters campus on Saturday.by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Netherlands native and University of Portland center Thomas van der Mars was on hand with his teammates for a basketball clinic and autograph-signing session on the Nike campus for the kids of Special Olympics Oregon.