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For athletes Jane, 40, Maika, 31, and Phil, 58, their first ever Special Olympics Illinois Winter Games exceeded all expectations.

All three competed in the 50-meter snowshoe race. Both Phil and Maika won gold. Jane received a 6th place ribbon for her efforts. While both Phil and Maika were proud of their gold medals, all three agreed that when it comes to competitions, doing your best is all that matters.

a group of people posing for a photo

“I don’t care what place I get,” Jane noted. “I tried my best this year. And I will try my best next year, or the next year, or the year after. I’m not going to get mad, or frustrated, or get upset, or say I’m not good enough.”

Phil nodded. “It doesn’t matter if you come in first place, you just go out there and have fun.”

As the Athlete Oath says, be brave in your attempt.

The three live at Misericordia in Chicago’s Roger’s Park neighborhood. They made the trip with Mary Ann Zielke-Allen, Misericordia’s Pool and Fitness Supervisor. “I’ve seen them come together more,” Mary Ann said. “There’s a comradery with the group. Jane’s the caretaker. Phil likes to rally them together and Maika—she’s our smiler. Happy all the time.”

Fun was the consensus the trio came to when describing Winter Games. “It’s been great this week,” Maika smiled. “I’m more confident. I’ve encouraged other people to be more confident.”

“It was a lot more fun than I thought,” Jane said. Phil agreed and said he liked the Opening Ceremony, the photo booth, and the souvenirs he got. Maika added, “Everyone should come to Galena.”

Learn more about Special Olympics Illinois 42nd Winter Games here.

a group of people sitting on snow