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Smiles all around for Special Olympics athletes

The Vernal Express - 5/21/2018

Jessica Stevenson knew she wouldn't have any problem getting her son, Kyson Hoover, from Altamont ready for the annual Special Olympics track and field event Wednesday at Coach Belcher Stadium.

The 10-year-old has been in the competition the last three years.

"He loves it every year," Stevenson said. "He can't wait to come. He asks about it often. The games are amazing. It gets better and better every year."

Stevenson said her son likes the racing events the best where he can speed down the track in his wheelchair.

"His favorite is the 100-meters," Stevenson said. "This was his first year doing it, but he loved it. He is very competitive."

Hoover had a big fan club on Wednesday watching him in his different events. His grandpa, grandmas, aunts and cousins were all in attendance cheering him on.

"Of course, he also loves the attention from the Uintah High School cheerleaders," Stevenson said.

Stevenson said Hoover was born with spina bifida. The dictionary says spina bifida is a congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. It often causes paralysis of the lower limbs and sometimes mental handicap.

Hoover attends Altamont Elementary School. He was representing Con Amore from Myton at the local competition.

"He went to Con Amore when he was little," Stevenson said. "We have to make it over to Vernal, so he can be in the games."

Stevenson said they haven't been to the Utah State Special Olympics but they have talked about going in the past.

The Utah State Special Olympic games are June 8-9 in Orem at Utah Valley University.

"We just need to get more information and research it," Stevenson said.

When Hoover jumps into the Altamont Middle School ranks, he is focusing on being a member of the cross country program on a handcycle.

A handcycle is a type of human-powered land vehicle powered by the arms rather than the legs as on a bicycle. Most handcycles are tricycle in form, with two coasting rear wheels and one steerable powered front wheel.

"We are in the process in getting a handcycle for him to be in cross country," Stevenson said.

Dustin Sprouse from Vernal has been a fixture at the track and field games for the past 10 years. He was at the games with his mother, Kathy Domgaard.

"It's a big deal," Domgaard said about the track and field games. "I love everybody here. It's just a real good community event."


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