FARGO -- Nearly 500 athletes are participating in this year’s Special Olympics North Dakota State Summer Games, but there is one proud Fargo representative who stands out.  

Carimar Arevalo, who is representing Cass County in volleyball this summer, has been involved in Special Olympics since 2010.

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Having been in Special Olympics for about 8 years means she is no stranger to competition. In past she has competed in swimming and even earned all-tournament team honors.

Arevalo says her time in Special Olympics is far from over.

“The next sport will be either bocce or soccer, and I’m probably going to play soccer,” Arevalo said.

While she’s out to have fun, what is she most excited about?  

“To compete! I’m excited to compete with all the different North Dakota teams, and it’s going to be really fun,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo’s competitive nature is important and helps the athletes have some fun, but Opening Ceremony Chair Kaia Watkins says it helps with much more.

“Everyone thinks Special Olympics and you just think sport, but it really is an avenue for these athletes to not just compete, but increase their confidence, make friends and be comfortable with people,” Watkins said.

“It helps make life-long friendships and helps them learn life skills. I have gotten to know the athletes really well over the last few years and I think they are really wonderful people who impact my life a lot.”

The state summer games will host athletics (track and field), swimming, bocce, powerlifting and volleyball. The games started with the opening ceremony Thursday, June 7, and conclude Saturday. For more information you can visit the Special Olympics North Dakota website.

This is the 21st consecutive year Fargo is hosting the state’s summer games. This year also marks Special Olympics’ 50th year, which is celebrating with its global theme, “Cheers to 50 Years of the Inclusion Revolution.”