Two athletes and three coaches will represent Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI)

Two athletes and three coaches will represent Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece to be held June 25-July 4, 2011. Team USA includes athletes and coaches from all 50 states and 185 countries.

Rebecca Stelpflug

Rebecca Stelpflug

Menomonee Falls athlete Rebecca Stelpflug, 20, will compete in swimming and Burlington athlete Christopher Mark, 17, will compete in track and field.

Stelpflug has been involved in Special Olympics for 10 years, training in swimming, golf, basketball and bowling. She also recently returned from the second ever Special Olympics National Games this past July in Nebraska with three gold medals and a 4th place ribbon in her swimming competitions. Outside of Special Olympics, Stelpflug enjoys art, sports and music.

“[Special Olympics] has built my self esteem and I get to meet lots of new friends, and it gives me the chance to compete in many sports which makes me happy,” said Stelpflug

Mark has been involved in Special Olympics nearly three years. Outside of participating in Special Olympics, he enjoys art, truck pulling, driving tractors and camping.

“[Special Olympics] has given me the opportunity to be involved in sports and be recognized, and it makes me feel great that I can do what all other kids do,” said Mark.

The three track and field coaches who will represent Wisconsin are Bonnie Kahn of Tomahawk, Deb Moore Gruenloh of Nekoosa and Steve Meurett of Neillsville. These coaches will assist in training essentials for the Team USA track and field team and communication of all information updates to their assigned athletes, family members and local coaches. Team USA coaches are also responsible for ensuring that all athletes are training with appropriate supervision and ensuring the athletes and coaches experience the athletic, physical and social benefits of participating in a World Games.

Christopher Mark

Christopher Mark

Kahn has been recognized at the annual Special Olympics Volunteer Award and Recognition Program in 2000 for the Award for Excellence and Coach of the Year in 2001. She is a physical education and adapted physical education instructor in the Tomahawk School District and has been involved with Special Olympics Wisconsin for more than 20 years. She is currently an agency manager and coach for her local team of athletes in several sports. On the state level she has served on the Area Management Team for the State Winter Games in Wausau and has taught various sports seminars and coaches clinics at conferences and schools. She also served as a Team Wisconsin coach for the National Games in Iowa in 2005. Nationally, Kahn served as a coach for the pre-World Games as well as the 2001 World Games held in Alaska, in addition to serving as Team USA’s cross country skiing coach at the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Japan and a Team USA coach for cross country skiing at the 2009 World Games in Idaho.

Moore-Gruenloh has been an early childhood special education teacher for the Wisconsin Rapids School District for more than 28 years, volunteering with Special Olympics for more than 23 years. She’s done everything from coaching locally in her home town in a variety of sports, to serving on the state Special Olympics Wisconsin Agency Management committee, to serving as a trainer for other coaches and agency managers in the state and also serving as a track and field coach for Team Wisconsin at the FIRST EVER 2005 Special Olympics National Games in Iowa (happens every four years). Most recently, she also was a coach at the Second ever National Games in Nebraska this past July. On the national level, she, again, served as a track and field coach at the 2007 Special Olympics World Games in China.

Meurett is a 20-year veteran Special Olympics coach. On the local level, he is a cross country and track coach and statewide, he has served on the Area Management Team for the State Winter Games in Wausau. On the national level, this will be his fifth World Games experience as he coached cross country skiing athletes at the 2001 World Games in Anchorage, Alaska; the half-marathon at the 2003 World Games in Dublin, Ireland; cross country skiing athletes at the 2005 World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan and cross country skiing at the 2009 World Winter Games in Boise Idaho.

The 2011 World Summer Games are expected to draw more than 7,500 athletes from around the world, as well as tens of thousands of volunteers, event officials, coaches, families, spectators and media representatives from around the world. The Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens will be the largest sporting event in the world in 2011 featuring 22 Olympic-type sports.

Thank you to Kwik Trip and the Law Enforcement Torch Run, the Mission Partners of SOWI, enabling the organization to hold nearly 80 competitions and five state tournaments per year. SOWI provides year-round training and competition opportunities through 18 different Olympic-type sports for nearly 10,000 individuals with cognitive disabilities. Join our online community by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Visit the official 2011 World Summer Games website: http://www.athens2011.org/en/

 

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