Special Olympics ‘Dream Team’ declared state champs
After six years of hard work and three previous attempts at the title, the Cherry Pickers basketball team won the Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament.
“I think it was just such a great achievement for them to make it to the state level and win — we are so proud of them,” said Sheri LaPlante, public relations and marketing assistant for Mesa Developmental Services.
Members of the team are affiliated with three Mesa County organizations that help those with disabilities including Ariel, the Grand Junction Regional Center and MDS.
The team has played together for six years — practicing once a week for two hours.
A team of coaches helped the team to the top including head coaches Shaun Freeburg and Brendon Ravens, both host home providers for MDS. Assistant coaches included Vicki Earich of MDS plus Amy Harvey and Denise Valdez of the Grand Junction Regional Center.
This is the third time they attempted to take the state title. The tournament took place March 18 in Lakewood.
Coach Freeburg said the team worked hard and earned every win within the tournament against Front Range teams. This is the first state win for any Special Olympics basketball team from Mesa County.
The Cherry Pickers stood proudly together on the podium to receive their gold medals.
Another local team, The Scorpions, were given bronze medals.