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Smiles and cheers spell success

River Falls High School basketball players and coach Zac Campbell volunteered to referee the seventh annual Special Olympics basketball tournament on Jan. 27, at Baldwin-Woodville High School. Submitted photo1 / 3
Members of the River Valley Special Olympics basketball team, which represents the St. Croix Valley, played against several other teams from the area during the seventh annual tournament held at the Baldwin-Woodville High School on Jan. 27. Submitted photo2 / 3
A good sized crowd turned out to watch the seventh annual Special Olympics basketball tournament, on Sunday, Jan. 27, at Baldwin-Woodville High School. Submitted photo 3 / 3

Even though it was freezing cold outside, community volunteers, athletes, coaches, parents, fans and a whole host of local businesses came together for the seventh annual Special Olympics basketball tournament, on Sunday, Jan. 27, at Baldwin-Woodville High School.

"When people say, it takes a village, I smile because I feel so excited when I realize that it takes many communities coming together to get the most out of an event. When I get home at the end of the tournament, I realize my heart is full because of the energy that so many put into the Special Olympics Tournament," said Roxi Wakeen, the founder of the event. "I am so fortunate that many of the original workers from my colleagues and students to parents and friends and businesses have continued to be active members of the tournament. What amazes me the most is the number of people who offer suggestions and their ability to put them into action. Our tournament has grown from eight teams the first year to 28 teams this year!"

With the unpredictable January weather, the event organizers tried to create an event that allowed them to use the two school buildings.

"This means that we have divided into two tournaments in reality. If it weren't for the staff at each building, we could never begin to offer such a program. Each year volunteers step forward to become leaders of the venue. Thank you for your help," Wakeen said. "The local businesses, foundations, and corporate sponsors who have also helped with making our program a success should also be commended. Without such community cooperation we could not keep adding to our services."

This year, the tournament also featured added informational tables from The St. Croix County Community on Transition.

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