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Special Olympics flag football state championships bring athletes, parents, volunteers together

DENVER -- Hundreds of athletes competed in the Colorado Special Olympics state championships for flag football on Saturday.

Flag football is one of the newest sports offered by the Special Olympics.

"We are 28 teams today," regional manager Sam Millers aid. "Two years ago, we just had five teams. Flag football has just exploded here in Colorado and turned into a signature event."

The athletes, coaches and volunteers have been training for this for months.

"I would say our youngest is 11 and our oldest is 50 and they all play together and work really well together," Rocky Mountain team organizer Teri Koren said. "And they come together and work really well together."

And they have some high school athletes on their unified teams. All of them had a great time. Parents say these athletes look forward to practices and games all week long.

"Anybody that knows about these special guys, the anxiety levels," Mark Daggenhart said. "But they are all showing up, it is a wonderful event. The volunteers are the real heroes. I can't say enough about the wonderful volunteers."

Volunteers like Koren, whose son inspired her to give back.

"I have a son who has Down syndrome, who I got started in it and I got passionate about it," Koren said. "I absolutely love it. Volunteering and putting this together. I probably get more out of it than the athletes do. It's a passion of mine been involved in many years."

The athletes get a sense of community, a sense of pride, and a sense of teamwork. Here, everyone wins.

The Special Olympics is always looking for volunteers: coaches, referees, cheerleaders. And you can donate money to the cause as well.