By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Special Olympics hosts state games in Newberg

News-Register File PhotoA tray full of medals and ribbons lays on a table at the 2012 Special Olympics Oregon State Games in Newberg.
News-Register File Photo
A tray full of medals and ribbons lays on a table at the 2012 Special Olympics Oregon State Games in Newberg.

Athletes from around the state will compete in the two-day event Saturday and Sunday at a variety of facilities in Newberg, vying for medals in bocce, golf, track and field and softball. The Yamhill County chapter is again sending a big contingent to the State Games. There are 105 people signed up to compete — 54 athletes and partners in bocce, 35 more in track and 16 golfers and their partners. Each local program wears a different colored shirt so people can identify where the athletes are from, and this year McMinnville athletes will be wearing black shirts with pink.

The event always draws a large crowd over the two days, bringing more than 3,000 athletes, coaches and volunteers to the area, as well as the thousands of friends, family and fans.

Yamhill County is always highlighted at the State Games, and this year is no different. Athletes Matt Baxter and Tim Siler are two athletes from the county that have earned honors. Baxter, a bocce player and a swimmer who lives in Newberg, was nominated and won the Les Schwab Pride and Performance award, local program coordinator Nancy Keim said.

“It’s given to the athlete who personifies all the things of Special Olympics,” she said.

Siler, a power lifter and golf, will be escorted into the stadium with McMinnville Police Officer Pam Ramsey. At the close of the opening ceremony, the two will run a lap on the track then light the torch. Ramsey’s lap with Siler signifies the end of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which has been making its way around the state since Monday. More than 800 law enforcement volunteers — known as Guardians of the Flame — and more than a few Special Olympics athletes have been guiding the torch toward its final destination: Newberg High School Stadium. When Siler and Ramsey enter the stadium, 100 law enforcement officers, athletes and their coaches will parade into the stadium for the opening ceremony at 7 p.m.

“Pam has donated countless hours of her time in support of Special Olympics Oregon and the Law Enforcement Torch Run,” McMinnville Police Chief Ron Noble said in a press release. “We are proud of her commitment to Special Olympics Oregon and at being selected to run the torch into the stadium.”

The torch will pass through McMinnville on Saturday on its way to Newberg. McMinnville Police Department runners are scheduled to leave form the Lowes parking lot on the south edge of town at noon and will head north on Highway 99W. At the Mazatlan parking lot on the north side of Mac, the torch will be relayed to Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office runners.

Keim, who has a daughter that plays bocce, has been involved with Special Olympics Oregon for many years. She urges people to come out to the games to watch some of the action, because she said if they come just once, they’ll realize it’s real sport.

“It’s probably sport in its purest form,” she said.

Notes: The track and field competition will be held Saturday and Sunday at Newberg High School. … Bocce will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 9-5 Sunday at the George Fox University Austin Sports Complex. … Softball will be at the same time at the Newberg High School softball complex. … The golf competition is both Saturday and Sunday at Chehalem Glenn Golf Course. … Olympic Town, will be set up next to the NHS track at Mountain View Middle school and will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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