Area 13 Special Olympics volleyball team returns home

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FLINT (WJRT) - (08/03/15) - After standing on top of the podium, a team of local athletes is back home to celebrate.

The Area 13 Special Olympics volleyball team arrived at Flint's Bishop International Airport, gold medals in hand, Monday afternoon.

What started as a team representing Lapeer and Genesee counties, wound up representing the USA at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

It's been a long journey for the volleyball team, made up of current and former students of Genesee County's Elmer Knopf Learning Center.

After hours of practicing and fundraising tens of thousands of dollars just to get to California for the games, they're happy to show off their hard-earned hardware.

"I feel good. We got the gold and we brought it home," said athlete Bret Rife, of Mundy Township.

For Dalvin Keller of Flint, that wasn't even the best part of the trip.

"Talking to new guys, new people I haven't met and then, having fun," he said.

It's a winning attitude Head Coach Sheila Gafney saw from the beginning.

"They worked hard for 12 weeks," she said. "Once they believed in themselves, they did a nice job and won the medal."

Judging by the crowd at Bishop Airport, Monday, the hard work definitely didn't go unnoticed.

"This is fantastic, I love it, it's awesome. Half of Flint's here, I think," Gafney said.

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