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Area Special Olympians state-bound

David Leek (left), Pequot Lakes; Mike Padgett, Brainerd; and Dan Meyer, Baxter,

The ice at Gregory Park wasn’t too cooperative last week after a mid-winter thaw, but that didn’t stop three Special Olympians from practicing their figure skating routines inside the warming house.

Mike Padgett, 62, Brainerd; Dan Meyer, 20, Baxter; and David Leek, 25, Pequot Lakes, practiced their figure skating routines last Thursday in preparation for the state Special Olympics figure skating competition March 4 at Plymouth ice arena. Amanda Murphy, 8, Crosslake, was unable to attend practice but also will head to state to compete. 

Their figure skating coach is Gailene Norwood. Assistant coach is Jenny Barker with assistance from Special Olympic coaches Sally Leek and Bonnie Muzik. The athletes are part of the Special Angels Sport Club. 

Meyer and Leek will be doing a “Pirates of the Caribbean” skating routine together and will compete in basic skills. Leek also will perform to “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley while Meyer will skate to “Cross My Heart” by George Strait. Padgett will perform an “I Love Rock and Roll” exhibition program, in addition to competing with a unified skating partner. 

Padgett received two gold medals in the state competition last year, while Leek and Meyer each received a gold. Murphy earned a silver medal. 

“This will be my fifth year doing it,” Padgett said of the state competition. He is a well-known face at the Gregory Park rink and has taught hundreds of Brainerd children how to skate during the last 40 years or so. “I enjoy it. It’s fun. I get to meet all the other skaters.”

Padgett was recently certified as a Special Olympics ice skating coach. He competes in the Special Olympics at skill level 3 while the other skaters compete at skill level 1. 

“He’s good encouragement for the other skaters,” Sally Leek said of Padgett. “Mike is at the rink all the time. He helped both Danny and David a lot.”

“He’s probably taught half of Brainerd how to skate,” Muzik said of Padgett.

The skaters practice every Thursday afternoon at Gregory Park, starting when the rink opens in December.

The Special Angels Sport Club will host a fundraiser from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Wendy’s Restaurant in Brainerd. People are asked to come and eat dinner with the Special Olympics athletes. Ten percent of each sale during this time will be donated to the club to help pay for the athletes’ entry fees for winter Special Olympics games. 

JODIE TWEED may be reached at or 855-5858.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.