The first ever Special Olympics USA National Games were held from July 1-8 in Ames, Iowa, and Rainbow Acres athletes represented the state of Arizona well.
Rainbow Special Olympians Renee Anchordoguy and Jack Wadleigh brought home the gold in bocce doubles in Division 13. Playing with fellow Arizonan Special Olympians Philip Hill and Rebecca Morris (from Mesa) they captured the bronze medal in Division 26 team bocce. Hill and Morris took silver in Division 3 bocce doubles.
These first ever national Special Olympic games took place primarily on the campus of Iowa State University, and over 2,700 athletes competed. Every state in the nation sent athletes and nearly 8,000 volunteers were needed to stage the games. There were over 19,000 press credentials issued and the eight-day event attracted many tens of thousands of spectators.
Nearly 1,800 of the athletes were transported to Ames by the Cessna Citation Special Olympics Airlift. These flights were donated free of charge by 237 private Cessna jet owners from across the nation. Return flights were also donated.
Rainbow athletes Anchordoguy and Wadleigh received the first gold medals of anyone from the Arizona delegation, becoming the first Arizona Special Olympians to win gold in a national game. Accompanying Anchordoguy and Wadleigh was Rainbow staff member and coach Sandy Koonce.
Rainbow Acres, located in Camp Verde, is a faith-based, non-profit community for adults with developmental disabilities. For more information on Rainbow Acres, please call 567-5231, or visit www.rainbowacres.com.