Southeast graduate takes Silver at Special Olympics World Winter Games

UPDATED MON. MAR. 27, 2017: “It’s hard work, but when I put my heart into it, I see results.” – Ashley Spriggs, Southeast Class of 2000, was featured in the ESPN video “Girl Power” that aired just before the Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Austria. Ashley went on to take Silver in 100 Meter Showshoeing, Bronze in the 200 Meters, and Bronze in the 4×100 Relay. (Photos courtesy Special Olympics Kansas & New Hope Bulldogs)

UPDATED SAT. FEB. 11, 2017: Southeast 6th graders Drake Guymon, Kolby Lovell and Wyatt Scales took the Polar Plunge today in Pittsburg. The team raised $1,062 total in 3 weeks for the Special Olympics, and we’re told today’s Plunge raised around $21,000.


Southeast student to take Polar Plunge to help his aunt go to World Winter Olympic Games

Three Southeast Junior High students will be taking part in this Saturday’s Polar Plunge. Sixth grader Kolby Lovell hopes it’s cold and says feeling the icy water will be worth it.

“I’m raising money for my aunt Ashley for Special Olympics,” Kolby said Monday morning. “She is snoeshowing.”

Ashley Spriggs, a member of the Southeast High School Class of 2000, will be competing in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, March 14-15. She and Jared Leatherman will represent the New Hope Bulldogs based in Pittsburg as snowshoers – described as cross country on snow while wearing showshoes.

New Hope Day Service Director Rosie West says in addition to training in Pittsburg, the pair trained at Snow Creek in West, Missouri where they use fake snow.

“It’s actually like a little resort that people go to,” Mrs. West said. “They can go skiing, tubing, snowshoeing, that kind of thing. So they got to go there because it’s got fake snow. They went to Vermont for a week the last month of December, a training camp kind of thing, and they got to run in real snow there and practice there, get their qualifying time.”

Going to Vermont also allowed Ashley and Jared to prepare a little for the cold that they’ll see in Austria, where it’s expected to be below zero with a high of 10 degrees.

“Yeah, it’s going to be cold at Austria,” Ashley said.

“Ashley trains really hard every day,” West continued. “She’s lost over 100 pounds, she’s just a hard worker. They work out five days a week now.”

Ashley has been involved in Special Olympics for 10 years and holds state powerlifting records for her weight class in Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift.

Ashley’s nephew, Kolby, will be doing his second Pittsburg Polar Plunge on Saturday February 14. He will be joined by classmates Drake Guymon, who will be doing his third plunge in a row, and Wyatt Scales, who will be doing his first.

“He’s got to be excited about me,” Ashley said, who will not be taking the Plunge, but will be running in the 5K Strut earlier that day.

Kolby’s team is collecting donations through February 10, and while they have already surpassed their goal of $400, West said it costs thousands and thousands of dollars per athlete for their training and the competitions.

“It’s not only for World Games, we have National Games and just all of the sporting events that they do,” West said. “The money goes toward helping pay for uniforms, hotel feels, entry fees, anything like that.”

Events like the Polar Plunge helps fund these type of events.

“Not everyone wants to jump in the freezing cold,” West said. “I’m hoping it’ll be nice, but people can just raise money – they don’t have to jump, they can just raise money. The more involvement the better. The more knowledge the better.”

If you would like to contribute to the Kolby, Drake and Wyatt’s plunge, you can call 1-620-404-9191 or visit the website. Under “Find a Team” select “Southeast Lancers”, or go to


Ashley Spriggs does weight training with Chevi Peters and Coach John Lair. Spriggs will compete in snowshoeing at the World Winter Games in Austria, March 14-15. Photo courtesy of Special Olympics New Hope Pittsburg, Kansas.

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