O’Fallon area Special Olympian takes home gold in Dubai World Games

O’FALLON – Competing on a world stage might have been unthinkable just a few short years ago for an O’Fallon young woman who recently brought home several medals in gymnastics at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, Dubai. 

OTHS student Saneatha Trice won a gold medal in vault, a bronze medal in uneven bars, floor and all around, and fourth in balance beam at the Special Olympics World Games in Dubai earlier this month. (Submitted Photo)

Saneatha Trice, a student at the O’Fallon Township High School Transition House, said when she first took up gymnastics in eighth grade, she didn’t know if she would like it or not. 

“I was kind of scared and nervous,” Trice said. “My teacher wanted to see if I would try it.”

Tara Edwards, Trice’s mother and director of Parent Teacher Organization for Exceptional Children (PTOEC), said when Trice was at her first gymnastics practice, she surprised many with her abilities on the vault. 

“Coaches still talk about it today how she just walked in and gave them their first heart attack,” Edwards said. 

Before gymnastics, Trice said she was nervous just talking to people. But with a little help from friends she calls her heroes, she has become a fearless competitor.

“They helped me,” Trice said. 

Edwards said her daughter benefits more from just the athletic aspect of the PTOEC program. “Saneatha would never go up to somebody she didn’t know and just talk,” Edwards said. “Now, she talks to everybody.”

After realizing her natural abilities with gymnastics, Trice has taken an interest in other sports as well, such as bowling and basketball.

Among her crowning achievements in her sport of choice are five gold medals in vault, uneven bars, floor, beam and all around earned last summer in Special Olympics USA games in Seattle.

After that competition, she kept the momentum going by hard work, which later earned her a prestigious invitation to the Special Olympics World Games. 

Trice said she was “surprised and shocked” to be competing in Dubai. Her nerves really set in, however, on the plane ride overlooking the ocean. 

In Abu Dhabi, Trice said she enjoyed meeting other USA Special Olympians from all of the competing sports. 

“All they wanted to do was support me and support Team USA,” Trice said.

Her favorite part of the trip, she said, was the food at “host town” and a theme park visit in the desert with other USA competitors. 

The World Games took place from March 14 through March 21 and Trice spent three of those days competing. 

Trice received gold in vault, bronze in uneven bars, floor and all around and fourth in balance beam. She said vault and floor are her favorite events to compete in with beams and bars being less favorite.

“I was just happy my family was there to support me,” Trice said. “I really like my mom coming and watching, I don’t want her to miss anything.” 

Edwards said while Trice has always struggled with the beam, when she competed during preliminaries, it was the best she has ever done in her gymnastics career.

Trice said of her gymnastics coach Jennifer Hitt, “she’s the best coach ever. She’s helped me with a lot.” 

Trice said after the conclusion of the World Games, she was ready to come back home to O’Fallon. She also said she may be done competing for awhile. 

“I think there’s still a lot left to learn,” Edwards said. “She saw a lot of skill at those games that we don’t get to see here on a state level.”

Trice said Special Olympics has helped her with many different aspects of her life. She also said she would tell kids her age to never give up on their dreams and goals. 

“I would tell anyone who is my age, anything you can do — just do it. It’s good for all the kids to know what I’m doing. Don’t give up and try to do the best you can with sports. Pick your favorite sport that you like and want to do.” 

Trice described her Olympic medals as “heavy.” But her famous line that she so often uses — “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

Laverna Evans students raise money for Special Olympics

(Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – Students at Laverna Evans Elementary raised money for Special Olympics on Friday, Feb. 8 by donating $1 to wear pajamas for the day. 

Evans students raised over $330 and presented a check to O’Fallon Police Department as a joint effort to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics. 

(Submitted Photo)

“This was a fun event for the students and staff as everyone had the opportunity to dress in PJ’s and donate to a great cause,” Evans principal Ryan Keller said.

(Submitted Photo)

“Our students, parents and staff are very gracious with donations and supporting the many great causes in our community,” he said. “It is rewarding to see everyone in our school community pulling together for the common good.”(

O’Fallon PD, Texas Roadhouse partner to raise money for Special Olympics

(O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon Police Department and Texas Roadhouse teamed to raise money for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics last Thursday at lunch time. The restaurant gave away lunch in exchange for a donation.

O’Fallon Detective Brian Girmpel said the partnership between Texas Roadhouse and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois partnership began six years ago in 2010. Gimpel said last week’s event was the best yet in O’Fallon.

“This year we raised approximately $8,700, our best year so far. We were concerned going into the event because the day was moved from a Friday to Thursday. This year we had 12 athletes and 10 officers helping serve the lunch,” Gimpel said.

(O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

One hundred percent of the money raised during this event was donated to Special Olympics Illinois.  Special Olympics currently serves over 20,000 athletes of all ages throughout the state.

The free-lunch event Thursday took place across the state. All total, $79,000 was raised statewide, with the O’Fallon event posting the second highest total.

Detective Gimpel and the O’Fallon Police Department wish to thank Texas Roadhouse for participating in the event. Additionally, they wish to thank the following businesses who purchased meals for their employees:

Bank of O’Fallon, Bank of Edwardsville, Auffenberg Hyundai, Auffenberg Dealer Group, Jack Schmitt Chevrolet, Spring Valley Dental Group, and Olson Orthodontics.

(O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Scholar Bowl Team - Carriel Jr. High

Carriel Jr. High students raise money for Special Olympics

Scholar Bowl Team - Carriel Jr. High


FCA of Carriel Jr. High

Carriel Jr. High School’s Fellowship of Chrisitan Athletes and Scholar Bowl Team teamed up to help raise money for the O’Fallon Police Departments Torch Run fundraiser for the Special Olympics. The Carriel student organizations sponsored a pajama pants and hat day where students and staff could pay one dollar each to wear the items on those days. If they participated they also received a raffle ticket for a variety of prizes. Carriel was able to raise $310 for the O’Fallon Police Department. Featured in the pictures above are (ABOVE) Special Olympian Jenny Harper with the Torch and (BELOW) Officer Brian Gimpel of the O’Fallon Police Department accepting the check. (Submitted Photos)