A Boyd Gaming team member at Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Iowa surprised his friends and family earlier this month by carrying the torch during the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.
Joshua Hickey, who competed in the pentathlon (100-Meter Dash, 400-Meter Dash, Long Jump, High Jump and Shot Put), has been participating in the Iowa Special Olympics for more than 18 years. While he has medaled numerous times in the Winter and Summer games and was named “Male Athlete of the Year” in 2014, the day he carried the torch is a moment he will never forget.
“The experience was unbelievable,” said Hickey. “It was a blast. There were a lot of people watching and hearing the crowd’s cheering and seeing them show their support was awesome.”
Hickey was one of 34 Iowans to attend the games at Husky Stadium on the University of Washington campus. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the games promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport while showcasing athletes from throughout the U.S. and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.
“We’re all proud of him and everything he has accomplished,” said Josh’s supervisor Rich Hess, Facilities Manager at Diamond Jo Casino. “Josh has been with us for eight years now, we’re family.”
Hickey’s family, some of whom live in Seattle and attended the games in person, were excited to see him represent the more than 4,000 U.S. athletes and coaches by carrying the torch.
“They were in tears. My dad especially,” said Hickey. “It was a big surprise for my aunt who lives in Seattle. My uncle and cousins who also attended the games were just thrilled to see me carrying the torch.”