Special Olympics celebrates 50th anniversary

(WAFB) - The Special Olympics is celebrating their 50th anniversary nationwide, and that includes athletes and volunteers in Louisiana.

Back in 1968, Louisiana sent 11 athletes to the first ever Special Olympics. Four years later, the state program was accredited.

In Baton Rouge on Thursday, athletes participated in the annual Camp Shriver, which started in 2005. The sports included basketball, soccer, kickball, and horseshoes.

"I love to play soccer, basketball, and horseshoes," said athlete, David Altazin. "I love being here and playing sports."

Volunteers come from across the south to help out with scoring and setting up. Breanna Kucera has been coming for ten years now. She's from Alabama, but stays with family in Baton Rouge so she can help out. "It's kind of my vacation," Kucera said. "It's a great time. I love being around all the athletes. They're just amazing people with the biggest hearts you could ever imagine."

This year's National competition will be held in Seattle in July. One of the Louisiana athletes attending will be Audrey Roussel. She made the bowling team, but that's just one of her talents. She says basketball is her favorite sport at Camp Shriver, and she enjoys "showing off" her skills.

WAFB profiled 17-year-old Will Johannessen in February. He made the national team in swimming in December.

RELATED VIDEO: Will Power: Baton Rouge teen to represent La. in national Special Olympics

Louisiana will be well represented at the national games, with 70 athletes competing. The games will be held from June 30 to July 6. Special Olympics Louisiana needs to raise $13,000 so the entire delegation can attend the games. It costs about $1,000 to send each athlete. Click here to donate.

Nearly 3,000 athletes participate nationwide.

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.