Special Olympics athletes return after big basketball win

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Local Special Olympics athletes came back into town in style Sunday after an important victory.

WEAU 13 News was there for the homecoming.

Two fire trucks from the Township Fire Department escorted Special Olympics athletes from I-94 to Wagner’s Lanes in Eau Claire.

That’s where family and friends cheered the athletes as they got off their bus.

There was a lot to cheer about, as the Eau Claire Slammers Basketball team was fresh off a big win at the State Tournament in Oshkosh.

“We played three games, two yesterday and one today. And we took third, super happy. Every game was within points,” said Ben
Hoffmeister, one of the team’s coaches.

“It feels good; we've been practicing all season and finally got to state,” said athlete Nathan Stygar.

This is the first time a Special Olympics basketball team from Eau Claire has made it to the state competition in eight years.

“It helps us feel proud of what we do, like we actually achieved something,” said athlete Sam Heraber.

“We represent all the people that want to make a mark on history, that is going to be etched in stone for years to come, that everybody hopefully will talk about,” said athlete Logan Cartman.

The tournament has both individual and team competitions for the middle and high school students.

“They put their hearts and souls into it and they did their best,” Hoffmeister said.

“Other people that have disabilities think that they can't do it. You can do it. And you'll be a winner, everyone’s a winner,” said athlete Bri Johnson.

The coaches, parents and players say they’re floored by the community's pride.

“I was surprised that we were going to be escorted by fire trucks,” said athlete Alberto Larabee.

“This day is so nice,” Heraber said.