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Local Special Olympians go for the gold

E.J. Harris

East Oregonian

and Tammy Malgesini

East Oregonian

Published on July 17, 2018 11:40AM

Last changed on July 17, 2018 12:52PM

Misty Larsen, bocce.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Misty Larsen, bocce.

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Jason Cargill, golf.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Jason Cargill, golf.

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Jilli Smalley, bowling and basketball.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Jilli Smalley, bowling and basketball.

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Camron Goldie, powerlifting and skiing.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Camron Goldie, powerlifting and skiing.

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Misty Larsen

Age: 45

City: Boardman

Participation: At least 20 years, both in Umatilla and Wasco counties.

Current sports: bocce, bowling, basketball

Past sports: Team Wellness, downhill skiing, track and field, aquatics and equestrian activities. “Skiing was one of my favorite sports when I was younger. But I ended up doing the splits and that wasn’t good.”

Special awards or honors: “I have lots of gold medals.” And, she received Female Athlete of the Year in 2006.

Enjoy about Special Olympics: “Hanging out with friends and I am an athlete representative on the Special Olympics Council.”

Benefits of participation: Lorraine Bance, who works with Misty through the Eastern Oregon Support Services Brokerage, said it helps her in learning responsibilities, including being organized and getting ready for practices and competition trips. Also, Misty likes to help other athletes.

Other activities: Has worked at Greenfield Grange in Boardman for six years, visiting friends, going shopping, walking, attending the car races, family activities and participating in arts and craft projects with friends. “I recently made a present for my mom for Mother’s Day.”

Jason Cargill

Age: 40

City: Pendleton

Participation: Started in 2002 for several years, then recently resumed. “I want to challenge myself to see if I could eventually get good enough to go to the World Games for Special Olympics. To have my name picked to compete at that level would be really awesome.”

Current sports: golf, basketball, bowling

Past sports: track and field

Special awards or honors: “I have a drawer full of medals” (including a 2017 gold medal in 9-hole alternate shot golf competition with Unified Sports partner Kris Neustal).

Enjoy about Special Olympics: Traveling out of the area for competitions, being with the other athletes and coaches and learning about the sport.

Benefits of participation: “Having fun and meeting new people who have disabilities like I do and just being a team player with the athletes and coaches and learning respect for others.”

Other activities: Work through the city of Pendleton’s Let ‘er Buck program with Elite Taxi. Also enjoys watching TV, visiting friends, going to barbecues, visiting parks, hiking and fishing.

Jilli Smalley

Age: 27

City: Hermiston

Participation: 14 years

Current sports: bocce, bowling, basketball

Past sports: cross country skiing, Team Wellness

Enjoy about Special Olympics: Being with friends, helping other athletes and having extended family watch her compete. “I have a big fan club.”

Benefits of participation: Jilli’s mom, Kristi, said prior to getting involved, so much of the focus at school was on her deficits. “Special Olympics focuses on her abilities and celebrates those.”

Special awards or honors: Represented Team USA at the Special Olympics World Winter Games (2009, cross-country skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho) and the Summer Games (2011, bowling in Athens, Greece) where she won a silver medal. Received the Governor’s Gold Award twice (2009, 2011) and the local Female Athlete of the Year (2016)

Other activities: has worked at Pizza hut for 10 years, weekly Zumba classes, going to movies and playing games with friends, creating clay figurines and coloring. She especially likes to beat her dad, Mark, at bowling, which she did during the April 21 The Arc Umatilla County Bowling Tournament with 212. Her top score is 226.

Camron Goldie

Age: 15

City: Echo

Participation: Since 2014. Echo residents Lorraine and Stu Bance, who previously served as local program coordinators, told Camron’s parents about the program.

Current sports: powerlifting, downhill skiing, bowling, track and field, basketball

Past sports: golf

Enjoy about Special Olympics: “For me, it’s not just getting medals and winning, it’s just getting out there and having fun. I like all the happy faces that I see out there doing stuff with the sports.”

Benefits of participation: Camron’s mom, Jeanette, said Special Olympics has been a confidence booster. “It helps with his peers. He has a competitive camaraderie without having to compete against them.” Also, it gives him an opportunity to participate in sports with others with similar abilities. Jeanette said Camron’s participation has benefited their entire family.

Special awards or honors: 4 gold medals, 4 silver medals, 9 bronze medals, 1 participation ribbon and a pair of sportsmanship awards for basketball.

Other activities: Attends Echo High School, enjoys hanging out with friends, participating in sports, playing video games, helping other people and family activities.


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