SPECIAL OLYMPICS: Ben McCarthy to represent Minnesota - KMSP-TV

SPECIAL OLYMPICS: Ben McCarthy to represent Minnesota

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Ben McCarthy is a 23-year-old athlete from North St. Paul, but he'll soon be heading to New Jersey to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games, where he'll represent Minnesota in track and field events.

When McCarthy applied to compete, he was determined. In fact, he applied several times in every category he was eligible for until he was finally accepted for running events.

"I started with a team when I was very little," he said.

For the past 9 years, McCarthy has competed in Special Olympics Minnesota.

"Going from the area to these regionals and states," he summed up.

Now, he'll be heading to the national event where 3,500 athletes from across the country will go for the gold.

"I love to keep running and active," McCarthy said.

McCarthy will run the 100, 200, 4x100 relay and will compete in the running long jump. His parents, June and Jim, are delighted to see how his diligence paid off.

The selection process to get to the national stage is no simple job. Between 50 and 100 athletes will vie for about 8 openings.

Beyond sports, participating in Special Olympics has positively shaped many other areas of McCarthy's life.

"It's changed my life so much," he reflected.

McCarthy has a mild developmental disability, but Special Olympics offers him a place where he can be competitive and not be looked down on. It's also allowed McCarthy to become an ambassador who raises awareness about life with disabilities.

"Getting more people involved and just hoping to keep the R-word out," McCarthy said.

His goals don't stop at New Jersey either.

"I'm hoping to make the World Games," McCarthy said.

Every step of the way and no matter what happens, Jim and June McCarthy will be there to proudly cheer on their son.

The Special Olympics USA Games begin on June 13 at the Prudential Center in Princeton.

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