EVANSTON — By qualifying in state level competitions last month, and with 2018 being an Olympic year, three Evanston athletes will travel to Seattle for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games to be staged on campus at the University of Washington and at other venues in and around Seattle and King County. The USA games only take place once every four years, so it works out well for bowler Byrlie Thomas and basketball team members Caden Fry and Tanner Spatig. Accompanying the trio to the Emerald City will be coach Dave Deru, their parents and volunteers, such as other members of the unified 5-on-5 basketball team.
They will depart from Evanston on Friday, June 29, with a police escort leading their bus out-of-town en route to Salt Lake City, where they will stay overnight, before boarding an early morning flight to Seattle, where the competition and festivities will last for a week.
The Herald spoke with all three members and their coach this past Wednesday and discovered they all share some common thoughts and virtues. All three athletes have been practicing their sports to improve their skill sets. They are all equally excited to travel to a place they have never been and to meet new people. All three are excited to compete, but when asked what they consider the most important aspect of the experience, Thomas, Fry and Spatig unanimously chimed in with “to win.”
Yes, Evanston’s Special Olympic athletes are not taking the opportunity lightly. Their collective mindset is to compete to the best of their abilities in order to bring home some hardware.
Fry told the Herald, “We all know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”