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Nevada team ready and excited to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games

Posted at 11:17 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-28 16:24:05-04

A group from Nevada will join 4,000 elite athletes representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia at the University of Washington for the Special Olympics USA Games next week.

As they dribble, pass and shoot, getting in one last practice before they play in front of thousands of people; the Team Nevada basketball players can barely contain their excitement. James Stinson has wanted to attend the games for years.

"My first time going and I'm honored," said Stinson.

Coach Tyrel Cooper said they have plenty of reason to be excited.

"These guys are gonna be on ESPN next week. And that's a pretty special deal, " said Cooper.

The Special Olympic Games in Seattle are an aspiration fueled by months of sweat. Shautief Toennigs said he shared his excitement with anyone who will listen.

"It's a long journey there, and I'm looking forward to competing. It's something I have talked about with my friends for a long time. And it's a dream come true."

As their coach passed out uniforms and their weekend swag bags, their faces instantly lit up. It's not a gold medal, but it's definitely a golden moment.

 "Oh, it was like Christmas time, so we waited until the very last minute of practice to give them these bags of gear." said Cooper.

It all illustrates why the Special Olympics are so meaningful. Celeste Brooks' son is competing on the team.

"It opens up a lot of opportunities to showcase that special Olympians are athletes too and I think sometimes people tend to forget that."

And it's often life-changing for athletes like Kelvin Rainey.

"I love to play. I came to show the world what I can do. I showed my family and friends. And everybody else. I just love to play. I just can't wait.  It's a blessing."