WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 15, 2011, 09:23 AM

Special Olympian is the pride of Underwood, MN

Underwood, Minn. (WDAY TV) – 5,000,266 people live in Minnesota. Only 8 will be going to the Special Olympics in Athens, Greece. Tyler DeVries, one of them, is quickly becoming the pride of Underwood as it’s only Olympian.

Its not often a town of 300 gets to send off one of its own to the Olympics. So why not challenge him at his own game, Bocce ball, before he goes.

For Tyler DeVries, 10-years of competition playing Bocce ball in the Special Olympics have finally paid off.

JULIE DEVRIES - Tyler's Mom "I just can’t imagine when it comes to the opening ceremonies and we see him walk in, what it is going to be like."

At the age of 25, Tyler is getting his chance to represent Minnesota and Team U.S.A in the 13th Special Olympic Games.

JOHN DEVRIES - Tyler's Dad: "I'm so very proud of him. He's done a lot of work, he's very dedicated."

Tyler was born with a form of autism known as "Fragile X". You'd never know it with his zeal for life and willingness to teach others the sport he enjoys so much.

TYLER DEVRIES - Special Olympian: "It is pretty fun once you get to play it."

More than 50-people showed up to the challenge the Champion and just about everyone, all ages, challenged Tyler to a game. Even his mom, who'd tell you she's the one who Tyler inherited his Bocce Ball game from.

Julie DeVries: "Oh of course, most certainly."

When you go to the Olympics, you'd think the goal is to win a gold medal and hang it around your neck, but for Tyler DeVries, his goal is bigger and set on the neck of a whole community.

Tyler DeVries: "Just to try to win a gold medal for these people here."

With a send off from everyone in town, next stop, Athens Greece.

Tyler DeVries: "I can’t even thank these people. I mean how can you? They treat you like a person."

45-athletes in Minnesota were recommended for the World Olympics. Only the 8-were chosen. Tyler and his family take off for the Olympics June 18th where he will be part of 185-Nations represented by 75-hundred athletes.