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Hundreds gather in Mitchell for state Special Olympics

Hundreds of athletes traveled to Mitchell over the weekend to compete in the Special Olympics Fall Classic 2018 at the sports facilities at Cadwell Park.

Athletes compete in the 2018 Special Olympics Fall Classic during the 3rd annual State Bocce Tournament at Caldwell Park in Mitchell Saturday. (Sheila Slater/Daily Republic)
Athletes compete in the 2018 Special Olympics Fall Classic during the 3rd annual State Bocce Tournament at Caldwell Park in Mitchell Saturday. (Sheila Slater/Daily Republic)

Hundreds of athletes traveled to Mitchell over the weekend to compete in the Special Olympics Fall Classic 2018 at the sports facilities at Cadwell Park.

Melanie Frosch, vice president of sports and competition at Special Olympics of South Dakota (SOSD), was pleased with the high turnout and finds Mitchell to be the perfect location to hold this event.

"I've been working with SOSD for 28 years. Mitchell is extremely welcoming to us and a very inclusive community when it comes to our events. Our ultimate goal for the Special Olympics is inclusiveness for everybody. That is where we are heading as an organization," Frosch said.

The 300 bocce athletes and 28 softball teams from across the state compete in unified teams, meaning Special Olympics athletes compete with non-Special Olympics athletes on the same team. In total more than 500 athletes were competing.

The Fall Classic used to only offer softball, but three years ago the SOSD decided to add bocce to the tournament. Every year there is a bid process for the SOSD games and the three-day event has been held in Huron, Brookings and Rapid City in the past. Mitchell has become a popular city to host the Special Olympics Fall Classic because of the facilities at Cadwell Park and the ease of traveling here from throughout the state.

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"Mitchell is right on the interstate and people from the Black Hills don't mind coming here. It's just a great location. The number of our teams has increased, with two-thirds of them being from the eastern side of the state. When we travel west, our numbers tend to decrease a little bit," Frosch said. "The volunteers here are fabulous and the community as a whole is so welcoming and willing to do and adapt to whatever we need."

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