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Regional Special Olympics competition held at Hidden Greens

Special Olympics athletes from Dakota, Washington and Ramsey counties showed their bocce ball skills during the regional competition hosted by the Hastings Sharks Monday at Hidden Green Golf Course.

The name of the game Monday morning at Hidden Greens Golf Course was golf, of course, and bocce ball for more than 200 Special Olympics athletes.

For more than two hours, the Special Olympians played three-hole and nine-hole golf, and team bocce ball. The games were followed by a picnic lunch, some skills events, and a short awards ceremony.

The Hastings Sharks Special Olympics team competed in the golfing events, but does not have a bocce team. Teams from Dakota, Washington and Ramsey counties competed in the Area 12 Competition. Winners advance to the state competition Aug. 21.

Lisa Sieben, Hastings Sharks president, said the team has hosted the Area 12 competition for seven years at Hidden Greens, which donates the use of the front nine for the competition. The Hastings Lions Club grilled the free hot dogs, and provided chips and water. Coborn's Superstore provided free ice cream cones and snacks for everyone Monday. There were about 65 volunteers, including some from the high school football boosters.

The Hastings Sharks compete in eight sports, with different regional events held during the year.

"We are the luckiest Special Olympics team," said Sieben, in speaking about the community's generosity. "This is a wonderful community."

The Hastings Sharks are the Special Olympics Minnesota team in the Hastings area. As part of Special Olympics Minnesota, the team offers year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for individuals with intellectual difficulties. Participation is open to anyone age 8 and older, and all programs are designed to serve all ability levels.