KALISPELL, Mont. -

Athletes from around western Montana ran, swam and even bowled their way through the Special Olympics Montana Area Games in the Flathead on Friday. NBC Montana stopped by the cycling competition at Kalispell Middle School.

Close to 200 athletes participated in events geared toward getting them ready for the state games in Billings in May. One coordinator spoke about how the games affect the special athletes in her life.

?I would say it?s the feeling of accomplishment and the fact that this is their venue that they can be themselves and have a great deal of pride in who they are,? said Susan Bonin of Flathead Industries.

The first International Special Olympics were held back in July of 1969 in Chicago.