Three special Wisconsin athletes are on their way to represent the USA.
A fond farewell from family and friends as Jill Mitchell, Carolyn Voelker, and Gordon Hodge prepare to head overseas.
The trio will be competing in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan later this week. About 200 members make up the U.S. team.
Olympic officials say fundraisers like Sunday's Polar Plunge in Madison make it possible for these athletes to represent Wisconsin and the U.S. in Japan. The event raised more than $200,000 to help cover travel expenses.
Family members say they are extremely proud of the athletes' hard work.
“I've been lifting, swimming, biking and running,” says speed skating competitor Jill Mitchell.
“There really couldn't be a better ambassador of Wisconsin and of Madison, and Jill, she's so energetic, she's such a great athlete, and she's gonna do her best, I know it,” says Kelly Kick, Mitchell's sister.
The athletes say they are also looking ahead to the Summer World Games in Shanghai, China, which will be held in 2007.