Nearly 300 athletes converge in Girard for 9th Special Olympics


If you want to know where Jared Ausnehmer gets his inspiration as an athlete, just take a look at his shoes.

He got his glittery, gold running shoes from a thrift store because he liked the way they look. But when he later had them adorned with autographs from some of his favorite Pittsburgh Steeler football players, his footwear took on a whole new meaning.

“I’ve been a Steelers fan ever since I was in diapers,” the 24-year-old from North Lima said. “I respect those guys.”

Jared was one of nearly 300 athletes who participated Saturday in the Special Olympics 9th Annual Trumbull County Invitational track meet at Arrowhead Stadium in Girard. He smiled broadly as he talked about the autographs he sports on his shoes, from players including wide receiver Antonio Brown and former safety Mike Mitchell, who is currently a free agent after playing three seasons with the Black and Gold.

But the one of which he seems most proud is linebacker Ryan Shazier, an Ohio State University product who suffered a season-ending spinal injury Dec. 4, 2017, during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Shazier will not play in 2018, but has said he hopes to heal enough to play next year.

“Gotta give a shout out to him because of what happened to him, being in a wheelchair and everything,” Jared said between events Saturday. “He’s an inspiration to me, and I hope I can be an inspiration to him.”

Read more about Jared and the event in Sunday's Vindicator or on

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