Health fair held at Ronan High for Special Olympics

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CHASE HOOVER, 18, of Big Arm, practices bocce last week at Ronan High School during the MedFest health fair. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

As he concentrated on his throw, Chance Hoover explained the game of bocce.

ďItís a lot like bowling. Itís a combination of golf, bowling and football in one,Ē he said.

Hoover, 18, of Big Arm, attended the MedFest held at Ronan High School on Friday, Feb. 23, in support of Special Olympic athletes who attended.

The bocce station was set up in the corner of the schoolís gymnasium, which was initially intended for Ronan High School students to show others how to play.

Hoover, who plays the game regularly, ended up teaching others how to play.

Graduating from Polson High School in 2017, Hoover said he participates with SOMT when he can.

Hoover began playing bocce in high school several years ago after it was suggested he try.

Once he gave it a shot, he found he enjoyed playing it.

ďEvery time I play bocce (during Special Olympics), I always get (a) silver (medal),Ē Hoover said.

Hoover said that while there isnít enough room at his home to practice, itís also not fun to do so alone.

He practices with a partner from Polson High School, senior Michael Vergeront.

Hoover is going to try his hand at more than bocce this year.

Heís going to learn golf. Hooverís favorite sport is bowling, for how fun he said it is.

Last year, he received a gold medal for the state Special Olympics competition.

Vicki Donisthorpe, the health and wellness director of Special Olympics Montana, explained that MedFest is designed to provide physical screenings so athletes can participate in the games, but any athlete can attend the screening process.

This year, those who attended visited various stations for vitals, vision, heigh and weight, and body mass. A physician was also on hand to talk with the athletes.

There was also a station where athletes learned stress-relieving techniques as well as the importance of personal hygiene.

MedFest, April Charlo, tribal outreach director with SOMT, described the event as a more convenient way for athletes with intellectual disabilities to obtain medical screening.

Funded through a three-year grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Donisthorpe said that the program is nearing the end of its run, and SOMT is looking for local partnerships to keep the health screenings going.

ďOur goal is, weíll be looking for community partners to continue the funding.Ē

Athletes from St. Ignatius, Ronan, Polson attended MedFest, which is held during school hours, Charlo said.

Donisthorpe said for those interested in learning about sponsorships with SOMT can contact her at (406) 216-5327 or bdonisthorpe@somt.org.

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