South Sound duo will compete at national Special Olympics

Two South Sound men are scheduled to compete next week in the Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey.

Corbin McGearey and Nic Skinner are part of a team of four from Washington who qualified to be part of the event’s power lifting competition, according to their coach Alan Rose of Olympia.

And they are the only athletes from Thurston County headed to the event which begins Saturday, he said.

Kelley McGearey said her 25-year-old son was very excited about the all-expenses paid weeklong trip and competition. He and Skinner, who are autistic, won gold medals powerlifting during the state’s Special Olympics last year. Then their names were chosen at random from a drawing with the names of all gold medal winners from the state, Rose said.

“I told Corbin it’s like winning the Lotto,” Kelley McGearey said. “It doesn’t happen to everybody. It’s once in a million.”

The Games are expected to draw about 3,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from all over the country; 40 are going from Washington, Rose said.

“A lot of these guys never got picked in regular school, so here they get to be really good,” he said. “Not only that, in Special Olympics it’s about being better than you were before (in earlier competitions).”

The event will feature 16 Olympic-style team and individual sports, including cycling, golf, soccer and basketball.

About 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers and nearly 70,000 spectators are expected to attend, according to the Special Olympics USA Games media packet.

“The opening ceremonies are going to be at the Prudential Center,” Rose said. “They’re going all out. There’s going to be tons of celebrities.”

In addition to the games, the athletes will take a cruise, attend some special events including a dance, mingle with other athletes and bring home plenty of swag.

“Really the goal is for them to have fun,” Rose said. “That’s really the primary goal in Special Olympics.”