Miranda Young dedicated a decade of her professional life to children in the classroom prior to 2017.

The Grand Junction resident spent her first three years as a teacher at Clifton Elementary School before spending the next nine years at West Middle School.

She would go on to accept a promotion with District 51 as its Significant Support Needs Specialist. However, her time working directly with kids was far from over.

Young also became the head coach of the District 51 Special Olympics team, helping the team compete in regional events across the state in addition to events in the Grand Valley.

"While I was a teacher, I had all my students participate and I fell in love with Special Olympics and seeing our kiddos shine and run fast and jump and throw," Young said. "They just love it. Anything my students love, I also love."

She once again got the chance to see her athletes shine at Stocker Stadium on Sunday, the final day of the 50th annual Special Olympics Colorado Summer Games.

While the event was kicked off with torches and fireworks, it was closed with bright smiles and competitive fire.

Take the Dixon twins for example.

Chase and Gage Dixon, 10 years old, have competed in the Special Olympics for the past two years.

This year, they participated in track and field. Chase lifted his arms into the air as he crossed the finish line first in his category of the 50-meter dash.

Gage was right behind him.

"It feels good," Chase Dixon said. "It's just fun and it makes me feel good."

The Dixons enjoy their running, but they've competed in other sports in the Special Olympics in the past, such as cycling.

"We ride our bikes," Gage Dixon said. "We went with our partners to the bike club and rode 26 miles. At the end, we got a silly t-shirt."

Another of Young's youthful athletes is 13-year-old Brooklyn Martinez, who's been participating in the Special Olympics for nearly half of her life.

"I like throwing the most," Martinez said. "I throw the ball really far."

Young also oversees some older athletes, as well. One such athlete is 20-year-old Lucy Robinson, who earned a medal in the 100-meter dash.

Robinson competed in her seventh Special Olympics Summer Games.

"I like all the events," Robinson said.

Competing athletically also gives her flashbacks to her time in high school.

"I love the Junction Tigers," Robinson said. "I went there for four years. Tiger pride."

Sixteen athletes competed for District 51 on the track on Sunday.

Some won medals, but all went home winners.

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