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Nearly two months have passed since ABLE Games IV wrapped up. From set up to tear down, the three days moved seamlessly. It takes a mountain of people to make the magic happen, and boy, do we have a great crew. We can’t thank our sponsors, volunteers, and committee members enough for all the work they do throughout not only the weekend, but many weeks and months prior. We also thank Connor McGovern, NFL center, for providing energy and awareness that cannot be compared. Without your commitment, this event would not have been possible.

Let’s look back at the three days. Many people may not know this, but we kick our weekend off with an event called ABLE to Move on Thursday. ABLE to Move is an event, created by Connor McGovern who is passionate about students of all abilities having the opportunity to move their bodies. This year over 200 students from 10 different schools were moving and grooving through 12 different stations. The Cornerstone Bank Arena was packed, and fun was had by all students.

Friday, we kicked off the competition with an athlete meet and greet where athletes with different needs were able to meet their teammate before the opening ceremonies. A unique aspect of ABLE Games is that you can sign up as an individual and be partnered later. Many stories you will hear in this blog highlight the relationships that have grown because of that piece. Once athletes were put into their heats, the opening ceremonies began. Athletes marched out onto the floor, placed their hand on their hearts during the national anthem, and got pumped up for the competition to start. Once the teams marched off the floor, the first event started!

New to ABLE Games this year was the ABLE Business Challenge. The challenge was a row-a-thon! There were 4 adult athletes from each business-Bell Bank, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bremer Bank, High Point Networks, and First Western Bank and 2 student athletes from Liberty Middle School that made up each team. Each team rowed for 20 minutes with a requirement that each athlete had to row for 1 minute. Strategy was key here and the teams were all neck and neck, but Buffalo Wild Wings came out with the win. Congratulations and we can’t wait to see you back next year!

The first heat of the competition came out to begin the first event- Monkeying Around. Athletes completed a range of movements including toes to bar, knee ups, lying toes to rig, medicine ball halos, bar hangs, medicine ball overhead holds, and step ups or box jumps. This event required grip strength and grit as it was a complete as many rounds as possible in ten minutes workout! From two hand hangs to one hand hangs, I can assure you- there was no monkeying around in this event! The energy was high and new goals were met as some athletes hadn’t even hung on to a bar for that long prior to competition day. Boundaries were pushed and new abilities were seen, felt, and heard.

In The Traveler- event 2- rowing, farmers carries, shuttle sprints, and a sled drag was seen. The goal was to accumulate as many calories and cover as much distance as possible with the rower and farmers carries. Athletes went back and forth across the floor carrying weights much heavier than the groceries you might be carrying in weekly. These functional movements are not only tests within the gym space, but also support athletes outside the gym space in daily living and vocational (or work) activities.

Day 2 brought 3 different events- starting off with Heavy Climb. This was a test of strength in the dumbbell snatch or lunges, frog jumps, and broad jumps depending on the division. Determination was felt throughout this event as many athletes conquered weights they didn’t think possible. The last set of weights were designed to test athletes and push them to overcome the mental aspects of sport and we saw just that on the floor. The smiles, fist pumps, and hugs on the floor told the story of pride that we have in each other and ourselves when we accomplish our goals.

After that Push the Limits started which included these movements: biking, shuttle sprints, handstand push ups, push ups on the floor or a box, dumbbell front raises, glute bridges, synchronized thrusters, chair squats with a jump, and overhead presses with a dumbbell. This workout challenged athletes to really work together as movements needed to be synchronized. The bike and shuttle sprints were intended to be fast and difficult and as the crowd witnessed it- it truly was a “push the limits” workout.

To round out the weekend, the last event was The Jet. This event was inspired by Connor McGovern and the repetition scheme was created to equal 60 which is his jersey number. The Jet included bar muscle ups, pull ups, rows, banded pull downs, banded good mornings, synchronized burpees, ball balls, and lower body Russian twists. There were a LOT of synchronized burpees in this workout, and it was fun to watch athletes fly on the bar, row, or banded pull downs and banded good mornings.

At the end of the competition, winners were announced from the 7 divisions. New this year an ABLE School Champion was announced. Northern Cass took home the inaugural trophy and banner. Rounding out awards- Connor and Devin McGovern awarded 5 students with $1000 Choice Ready Scholarship. These scholarships are dedicated to supporting individuals actively participating in ABLE Games, empowering them to further their education or navigate transitional phases of their lives. The scholarship aims to provide crucial support to students embodying and advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Finally, the close of the weekend was here and many pictures, laughs, hugs, and “see ya” next years were exchanged. ABLE Games is more than an event. It is deeper than that. It’s roots are in allowing everyone the opportunity to not only compete, but compete side by

side with athletes of all abilities. It sends a message that you are seen, you are appreciated, and you can do it! Thank you to all that believe in this and live it out every single day. Without you, ABLE Games Community, this is not possible. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.