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Equipment Theft Fails to Foil Idaho Special Olympians

A team of Idaho Special Olympians was hopeful Monday that it could still make it to the annual state competition in two weeks as donations and offers poured in after someone stole most of its equipment.

Moscow, Idaho, police said someone broke into a storage unit used by the Moscow Rebel Tigers sometime last week and made off with more than $4,200 of winter sports equipment, including snowshoes, skis and winter jackets.

The theft, which was discovered Saturday, put the team's participation in the Idaho State Winter Games beginning Feb. 28 in Sun Valley in jeopardy, which Opey Freedle, director of sports and training for Special Olympics Idaho, called "a devastating blow for our athletes."

But as news of the theft spread through the Special Olympics community supporting developmentally disabled athletes, outraged supporters stepped up to the plate. Friends, relatives, other Special Olympics teams and the public at large pledged to make sure the Rebel Tigers can make it to State.

"As of about 10 o'clock this morning, I had a very long list of people who've called willing to donate funds and equipment," Elizabeth King, the team's volunteer coach, told NBC station KHQ of Spokane, Wash., on Monday.

Among the donations was $1,000 from the Special Olympics team in Couer d'Alene — part of a community response that means "we are going to go to State, and we are going to have a great time," King said.

"Everybody now knows about the Moscow Special Olympics team," she said.