Special Olympics gymnasts set to represent Illinois

Special Olympics gymnasts set to represent Illinois
February 5, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Mark Strotman

For Kaylee Darow and Sabrina Walega, getting ready for this year's 2014 Special Olympics USA Games has been anything but easy.

The teens are two of the best gymnasts in Illinois and are preparing to travel to New Jersey this summer to compete for Gold. Working through Elite Stars, Darow and Walega are put through strenuous workouts with the same goal in mind: get better every day.

"Our program is really designed to take individuals with special needs and push them beyond the scope of traditional training," said Patty Herman, the girls' coach. "If you watch us train our kids, there's really nothing soft and fluffy about what we do here. We really focus on the competitive elements of being an athlete."

Darow has followed the focus of her coach, noting: "[Herman] pushes me to do better, which I always do; push myself to do better at everything I can do."

Making this journey so special for the duo is the friendship they have formed. Even though they'll eventually be competing against each other in New Jersey, it hasn't gotten in the way of an incredibly special and important friendship they share.

"I like Karlee, she's so sweet," Walega said. "She's my best friend ever."

Watch Mark Schanowski's piece above for their entire story.