Butte Special Olympian headed to Seattle for national games

Posted at 5:42 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 19:42:39-04

BUTTE – Zach Stenson of Butte is getting in top shape to represent Team Montana in the Special Olympics national games in Seattle next week.

“I’m excited, but a little nervous at the same time,” said Zach.

The 19-year-old has a rare genetic condition called Tuberous sclerosis which caused severe developmental delay. His mother says he’s been overcoming challenges his whole life.

“I think his biggest challenge was overcoming bullies and kids who just didn’t understand that he wasn’t like everybody else,” said Heather Stenson.

Zach proved to be a tremendous athlete, participating in local Special Olympics since the 6th grade. Heather said she’s excited he gets to compete on the national level, saying community support has been overwhelming.

“Bryan Arnston, his coach, he’s a saint and we wouldn’t be here without Bryan,” Heather Stenson said.

Coach Arnston said Zach is working hard to prepare for the games.

“Oh, he’s definitely competitive, he’s a hard worker, he loves sports and anything that has to do with it. He’s going to go out and give everything’s he’s got, I know that,” Arnston said.

Zach will be running with the initials of another Special Olympics coach on his running shoes. Casey Boyle died in a motor vehicle accident three years ago, but Zach remembers how Casey inspired him.

“I remember one year I was going to race my two friends and I thought they were a lot faster than me and he just told me that go out there and give it all and I took second. He’d tell me to just give it your all and fight,” Zach said.

Zach’s mother says her son has come a long way and seeing him compete on the national stage July 1 will be a very emotional moment for her.

“When he walked across the stage at his graduation last year, it was a really sad hard day, because I knew he wasn’t moving on and now, watching him walk out there, I feel like what other parents get to feel is just really proud and, um, incredibly proud,” she said fighting back tears.

And his hometown can be proud too. The Special Olympics begins July 1st in Seattle.