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Braselton athlete to run torch in Special Olympics

Zac Schuetz (Special Photo)

Zac Schuetz (Special Photo)

DALTON — This week has been full of some disappointments Georgia sports fans, but there is a new team to root for beginning Friday .

Friday through Sunday, the 2013 Special Olympics State Fall Games kicks off in Dalton, Ga. with Zac Schuetz of Braselton representing Gwinnett County in the Flame of Hope into the Opening Ceremony.

He was nominated for the opportunity by his basketball coach Karen O’Connor.

“We found the he was selected about two weeks ago,” mother Catherine Schuetz said. “He’s excited about it. This is probably last year to compete at this age group.”

Law enforcement officers will help to carry the Flame of Hope into the Opening Ceremony of the Fall Games. The top five fundraising departments have the honor of carrying the flame and lighting the cauldron. This year’s officers and athletes represent Johns Creek, MARTA, Atlanta, Dougherty County and Gwinnett County Law Enforcement Departments.

The three-day event involved more than 1,300 athletes competing in softball, bocce, cycling, long distance walking and running and golf. The competitions take place throughout Dalton, including Heritage Point Park, Knob North Golf Club and Downtown Dalton Square.

“Zac will be competing in bocce during these games,” Catherine said. “He has participated in Special Olympics for the past 10 years or so.”

The 20-year-old athelete also participates in basketball during the winter and track in the spring.

During the opening ceremony on Friday evening , “American Idol” season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina will perform and lead the parade into the Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center.

Special Olympics Georgia provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The goal is to “help bring persons with intellectual disabilities into the larger society under conditions whereby they are accepted, respected and given the chance to become useful and productive citizens.”