Of the 7,500 athletes beginning competition today in Abu Dhabi at the Special Olympics World Games, six are from New York State. "Special Olympics is all about inclusion," said Stacey Hengsterman, President and CEO of Special Olympics New York. ESPN's coverage of the event from Abu Dhabi, Hengsterman believes, "really sends a message to the world."
During an interview with WBFO, Hengsterman provided a spolier alert: one New York athlete had earned a medal prior to the official start of the games.
She says Trent Hampton took the bronze medal last weekend during the Games' triathlon.
"Trent's been an athlete for a over a decade. He is such an inspiration, not just to us, but the other athletes," Hengsterman said.
"So, he did swimming, cycling and running. He told me that he was most nervous about swimming and he lost a few minutes but was able to gain it in cycling and running."
The medal serves as an affirmation for Special Olympics New York. According to Hengsterman, it's the largest effort in the country with 68,000 athletes throughout the state. There are nearly 4,000 Special Olympics athletes in Western New York.