PRAIRIE DU SAC (WKOW) -- For years, disabled athletes from Wisconsin looking qualify for the Junior National Games, had to travel far distances to compete.
"They had to go all over, or otherwise they didn't participate," Dairyland Games Director Greg Baumgarten said.
Until now. For the first time, Sauk Prairie High School hosted the inaugural Dairyland Games on Sunday.The first regional qualifying event for disabled athletes in the state of Wisconsin.
"A meet like this gives them a chance to compete against 3, 4, 5 other kids just like them," Baumgarten said.
Of the 20 athletes participating, many were wheelchair racers, including 12-year old Kari Craddock of Richland Center.
"I love racing. It's my favorite thing so I'm really excited to participate," Craddock said.
Keri has spina bifida, but she also has big dreams.
"I've just always wanted to go to the Paralympics. I met someone named Tatyana McFadden, she went to the Paralympics and I just want to grow up to be like her," Craddock said.
Not all athletes were on wheels. 24-year old Mike Assefa traveled from Chicago to compete.
"It's not that far from Chicago, so I said I'd make the trip up here," Assefa said.
In 2012, Mike lost his left leg in a train accident, but he remains an athlete with a goal.
"My dream is I want to make it to the Paralympics, so this event can help us reach goals and marks to hopefully qualify for Team USA," Assefa said.
No matter the ambition or disability, Wisconsin can now provide a platform, where athletes of all types have a chance to perform.
All of the athletes who participated in the regional qualifier will have a chance to compete in the Junior National Games which will be held at Middleton High School from July 16-23. Dean Clinic's Sports Medicine department was the primary sponsor for the Inaugural Dairyland Games.