Some of New Mexico’s finest basked in their recent triumphs at the Special Olympic Games.
The spotlight shined on the athletes Saturday, from the McDonald’s in Enchanted Hills showing their appreciation to the small crowd attending the Duke City Gladiators indoor football game at the Rio Rancho Events Center.
Clemy Garza, owner of the McDonald’s in Enchanted Hills, showed her appreciation, as did Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull and Special Olympics New Mexico Executive Director Randy Mascorella.
And pictures of the athletes were plastered on a wall upon entering the front door at the McDonald’s, further illustrating their success.
“This is an incredible celebration. We’re so excited to have Team New Mexico here,” Garza said.
After an hour and a half gathered together, scattered across the front corner of McDonald’s, the fun wasn’t quite over yet.
The group ventured down the steps leading to the main entrance of the Rio Rancho Events Center, then made their way up to Suite 301 to kick back and watch the game.
During halftime, they took to midfield, smiling, soaking it all in.
“Being a celebrity, it’s not easy,” said Team New Mexico member Erin Stalf, who also started working at Garza’s McDonald’s restaurant Thursday.
Special Olympics New Mexico sent a 33-member delegation, including 18 athletes, to Orlando, Fla. for the big show June 5 through June 12.
And Team New Mexico didn’t disappoint, especially those who hit the pool for the swimming competitions. The group brought home 23 total medals, including five gold medals in swimming.
“I was like shocked… I (had) happy tears from the first time I won,” said Stalf, who took home a gold medal and bronze medal in swimming. “It was actually kind-of emotional for my coaches.”
Some of the perks going to the Sunshine state also proved to be quite neat.
“Never been on a private jet before,” Stalf, 22, said. “They didn’t have enough planes for all the athletes, so they had to break us up for bocci and swimming to be on the private jet, including the coaches.”