2013 Illinois Special Olympics

By Alyssa Donovan

June 14, 2013 Updated Jun 14, 2013 at 10:39 PM CDT

The 2013 Illinois Special Olympics summer games kicked off on Friday.

One athlete says that the games are not all about winning.

Gina White has been a Special Olympics athlete for 3 years.

She said, "I like it. I like coming and being around my coach and everybody."

On Friday, White competed in her favorite race, the 400 meter walk.

But on this track it's not about who wins or loses, it's about personal achievements and life experiences.

Special Olympics Illinois spokesperson, Michele Henson said, "The skills they learn in sports transfer into so many parts of their lives and they learn so much from it."

White said,
"It's challenging. That's all it's challenging. It teaches you a lot of things. It teaches you a lot about sportsmanship. It teaches you how to be nice and how to respect everybody and don't be mean about it."

Henson says this is a chance for families to see their loved one succeed. "So often these families when their child is born they are told they can't do this or they can't do that. So this is a chance for them to see their child succeed and be like any other child."

White's coach Eugene Layeski says it's a fantastic feeling to work with the athletes. He said, "As a coach I work with exceptional family members and exceptional athletes like Gina and her teammates. I’m absolutely amazed with Gina's progress in Special Olympics. She works hard she's always there."

Nearly 4,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities are competing in this weekend’s Special Olympics Illinois summer games.