Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley athletes participate in Special Olympics USA

Lehigh Valley athletes participate in Special Olympics USA

SOUTH WHITEHALL, Pa. - The Lehigh Valley will be well represented at the upcoming Special Olympics USA Games.

Eleven athletes from Bethlehem and Lehigh County left Friday for the 2014 games in New Jersey.

"We've been doing a lot of training," said Zarrah Vitale, who participates in gymnastics for Bethlehem Special Olympics.

Michael Semler, who participates in aquatics for Bethlehem Special Olympics, said, "Every Tuesday this year I had a practice at Liberty High School and competitions to practice up before nationals."

"I am really excited to go to have fun with all the Team PA and with all the coaches," he added.

They've worked hard and put in the time. The athletes are ready and looking forward to the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.

"All of the fun we're going to have, we're going to have a great time," said Zarrah.

The Lehigh Valley athletes are among the more than 200 representing Pennsylvania. In all, more than 3,500 athletes are participating in this year's games in New Jersey.

"It's not what I can teach them, it's what they teach me," said Fred Knauss, an aquatics coach for Bethlehem.

"To see the hard work and dedication that they put in towards training and then to be able to be selected to represent the state is a great honor, just phenomenal," he said.

Proud parents were with the group to send them off.

"I think if we could get some more support it would help all these kids, 'cause they really strive to do their best and show people that they have the ability to be a good sportsman," said Pat Vitale, Zarrah's father. He was looking forward to attending to cheer her on.

"It's going to be fun," he said.

The opening ceremony in Sunday, June 15 and the closing ceremony is Friday, June 20.

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