Local Special Olympians win at nationals

Courtesy Photo From top left, Victoria Otterstrom, coach Gaydena Smith, Vanessa Hicks and Kasie Nebeker, are shown here during a dinner cruise near the Statue of Liberty in New York City. The cruise was part of the 2014 Special Olympic USA Games held earlier this month. All three eastern Idaho athletes placed in several events.

Three eastern Idaho Special Olympians brought home gold, silver and bronze medals from the 2014 Special Olympic USA Games, held in New Jersey last month.

Twenty-seven-year-old Vanessa Hicks, of Ammon, and Blackfoot natives Kasie Nebeker, 27, and Victoria Otterstrom, 15, qualified to participate in the games by winning gold standing in the 2013 State Summer Games.

They participated in a wide variety of sporting and recreational events at nationals, alongside the rest of Team Idaho and fellow Special Olympians from around the nation.

“The girls had an amazing time and had so much fun,” Special Olympics regional director Holly Giglio said. “They went on a dinner cruise around the Statue of Liberty, met famous athletes from around the country; and the opening ceremonies and award presentations were phenomenal.”

Hicks won gold in the 50-yard dash and bronze in the softball throw. Otterstrom received gold in the 200-yard dash, silver in the 400-yard run and placed fifth in the 100-yard dash. Nebaker took fourth place in the 50-yard freestyle swim, sixth place in the 100-yard freestyle and seventh in the 25-yard backstroke.

“These three ladies tried their hardest and represented eastern Idaho really well at the national games,” coach Gaydena Smith said. “They got a bit tired sometimes, but they all want to go back because it was such a great experience for them.”