NORMAL - The Twin Cities hosted 136 teams for the Illinois Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament this weekend.
Organizer Jen Clark said it's not the final score that makes the competition such a success.
"The hugs, the high fives the smiles. I mean, these athletes are truly doing it for the love of the game," Smith said.
Special Olympics provides year-round training and sports competitions to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The passion to have fun and play hard, is why Shabrina Lockett came with her team from Chicago.
"I like it so much because it's my favorite game you know, it reminds me of Derrick Rose, Michael Jordan, that's why I like it that's why it's the best basketball game for me," Lockett said.
More than 1,600 athletes competed in the three-day tournament, but even if they don't win first, second or third, everyone walks away with something.
"Just provides opportunities you know, that inclusive spirit and then just to make them feel, I mean their not any less you know, they're even better than most of us inside so it's a very empowering event," Clark said.
Lockett's coach, Shahenaz Abdel Rahim, said teamwork is what keeps her coming back year after year.
"Just seeing them like, win or lose they have a smile of their face. Everyone gets a medal a ribbon and everyone's a winner. Everyone gets together so it's just really touching," Abdel Rahim said.
When it comes to athletics, Lockett said sportsmanship is a goal everyone should shoot for.
"It makes me proud bout stepping up to it. Stepping up to the game you know. Playing hard like that makes it work."
Next on the schedule are the Special Olympics Summer Games. That includes aquatics, gymnastics, power lifting and soccer.
Those competitions kick off June 14th, organizers say it's their biggest event of the year.
Meet The Team
Take a moment to meet WMBD 31's team. Click here to learn more about the people who are "Taking Action for You!"