2 Minnesotans Set to Represent U.S. in Special Olympics World Games

March 17, 2017 05:53 AM

Two Minnesotans are set to represent the United States in the Special Olympics World Games.

Camilo Meija and Meghan Gartzke, both alpine skiers with intellectual disabilities, said they hope their journey is an inspiration to not only their loved ones, but the entire country as well.


The games kick off Saturday on ABC. 

"It's just amazing," Chuck Gartzke, Meghan's father, said.

"This was one of her dreams ... to make a World Games. And she finally did."

Meija and Gartzke are two of only 141 athletes who will represent the United States. They are also the only ones from Minnesota making the trip to Austria.

"Skiing is fun," Meija said.

"He just kept at it, and boy, he's doing all the black diamonds now," said Patricia Schaber, Meija's mother. 

It's been about a year since the athletes first found out they'd be representing their nation at the World Games. And for the past year, they've been training all across the country.

Though much of the work has come in their own backyard: Welch Village for Gartzke and Afton Alps for Meija. 

Of course, it's their parents who have helped them along the way. 

"For years it was him following me and now I'm following him," Schaber said. 

Both athletes said they're ready to experience wearing the red, white, and blue.

"I'm really excited, and proud to go learn a new culture," Gartzke said. 

"I'm mostly looking forward to seeing my other friends that I've been friends with for 20 years," Meija added. 

And whether or not they take home gold, they've already inspired many.

"I'm just proud of her," Chuck Gartzke said. 

"You just celebrate every accomplishment, because every accomplishment is kind of a surprise," Schaber said. "Whether you get a medal or not it doesn't matter because it's fun." 

Of course, coming home with some hardware would make the experience even more enjoyable.

"I'd really like the gold medal," Gartzke said.   

"I deserve it," Meija added. 


Brett Hoffland

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