Special Olympics is a cause near and dear to my heart, my older daughter has an intellectual disability, so we became involved for her sake. A way for her to compete and learn good sportsmanship, in an environment that was created especially for those who have disabilities. It only took 2 sports for the rest of the family to get involved, I became a coach and a member of the management team, my younger daughter is now a Unified Partner and does the Polar Plunge every year to help raise funds for Special Olympics.

Back in July, Owatonna Area Special Olympics started their softball season. Practices were held twice a week, to get ready for area games, and then this weekend, State Games. Area Games took place in Mankato, the last weekend in August, and the Owatonna teams did very well.

One really close call Melissa Hall/Townsquare Media

State Games are taking place this weekend, at HealthEast Sports Center in Woodbury. Most of the softball teams across our state are converged upon the Twin Cities, taking part in showing off how well they play, and meeting up with friends, old and new. Well, new this year, I was a Unified Partner for Owatonna's team. Full disclosure: I do not play softball, I have not touched a bat to even attempt to hit in YEARS, and I just cannot catch a ball with a glove to save my life. However, I said yes I would play, or attempt to play.

What a fun time it was. I always enjoy going to these events, the camaraderie and smiles on everyone's faces make it even more enjoyable. There is competition, and some teams are more competitive than others, but, at the end of the game, everyone is congratulating each other on a game well played, the officials are smiling and congratulating everyone, and the emphasis is more on inclusion and good sportsmanship, not on having to win the gold medals. Of course, winning the gold medal is awesome, and it is a competitive sport, however, as long you played your best, you walk away feeling accomplished no matter where you placed.

Unified players 2019 Submitted Photo