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West Mont Dragons return to Special Olympics Montana

Posted at 4:25 PM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 18:44:02-04

Special Olympics Montana (SOMT) impacts everyone involved. From the athletes, to the coaches, volunteers, and even spectators. For one Helena non-profit, competing in the games has been on hold since 2020, but now they're ready for their return.

After a three-year hiatus from SOMT, the West Mont Dragons are back and going for gold once again.

The competitions kick off on May 15, and West Mont is looking forward to competing with some of the best athletes from around the state.

The Dragons originally opted out of the games in 2020 because of the pandemic. It caused staffing issues where there weren't enough members to coach, or hold practices for the athletes, but now they're back and ready to hit the ground running. "I'm really excited. It just gets me out of the house, and I love playing sports," said Jodi Hines, an Athlete on the West Mont Dragons.


It is Hines’ first time competing in the games, but she's not shy. Jodi is excited to hit the hardwood and give it her all while making new friends along the way.

“I just went to do something different. Instead, get out in the community, meet new people. I enjoy people's company because I'm really… I'm a very outgoing, and friendly person,” said Hines.

But for Michael Chambers, he's a seasoned pro when it comes to the games.

He’s even brought home some hardware over the years, Chambers has taken home silver in basketball, and bronze in bowling. While it's nice being up on the podium, it's the sportsmanship during the games that always brings him back.

"A lot of crowd. people helping me out. Might fall, might get hurt, you need help? Sure," said Chambers.

chambers competing in SOMT for bowling

Susie Hull has also been with the Dragons for a while. Since 2008 to be exact. With West Mont returning to the games, she's excited to help out on the sidelines as an assistant coach, with a sport she knows best.

"Basketball… It's my favorite sport,” said Hull.

Hull will be working with Amber Kuntz. Kuntz has been elected captain for the first time with the Dragons. It's a big responsibility, but one that she's earned with her leadership on and off the court.

"I hang out with my friends, family and support them and stuff," said Kuntz.


It's an opportunity that West Mont is happy to give back to their folks, and the Helena community.

“We're extremely excited. I think there's a million kind of things and people that tell our folks what they can't do, and Special Olympics is one of those opportunities where we get to celebrate everything that they can do and everything that they can compete and kind of excel at,” said Jessie Obrecht, West Mont’s Grants and Development Coordinator.

Obrecht says it wasn't easy getting West Mont back in the games, but getting their folks excited about getting back out and competing was well worth it.

“I don't think people realize how much work it takes to put together practices, and coordinate all of the different schedules for folks to get them together and then to travel to the games and to make sure that everybody gets there, and gets coordinated and everything,” said Obrecht, “But the work is worth every single second when you get there and you get to see how much joy and excitement it brings to folks.”

Obrecht explains that the SOMT games are an experience unlike any other. Volunteering as a coach, officiating the games as a referee, or even just cheering them on as a spectator, helping out any way you can for the games to go on goes a long way for the athletes.

“This is something that our folks look forward to all year, said Obrecht, “So just a couple of hours of your time, just a couple of raffle tickets by just a couple of dollars donated, makes a huge difference for what we can do and how we can impact the lives of these folks all across the state. So give it a try.”