The joy of running... and ice cream sandwiches: Darci Anderson joins RBMS cross country team

Darci running in the Dick Bell Invitational with members of the EGHS volleyball team cheering her on. Photo provided

Athletes from across the state emerged upon Eagle Grove last week to run what has been said to be one of the toughest cross country courses in Iowa. The Dick Bell Invitational has hosted thousands of runners over the years with varying skill levels. It’s also brought tens-of-thousands of fans supporting their favorite participants. But this year, there was a runner that had everyone cheering for her - more than just a “good job” or “you’ve got this.” They were genuinely happy for her - despite the fact she might have been an opponent. That runner was Darci Anderson, a seventh grader from Eagle Grove.

Darci is the daughter of Mike and Angie Anderson. She is thirteen years old and attends Robert Blue Middle School. She enjoys music, being with friends, and her iPad. Darci also has Down Syndrome and has under gone multiple heart surgeries. But she and her family aren’t letting that stop her from trying new things - like finding a passion and being part of a team - The Robert Blue Middle School (RBMS) Cross Country Team to be specific.

“I wanted her to be involved in a middle school sport...and have the opportunity to experience being a part of the team-bonding that takes place,” said Angie.

As she began to think about the different options, cross country quickly became Angie’s favorite choice for several reasons. Darci has been running for Special Olympics since second grade - and doing very well at it. Her older sister, Alecia, also runs cross country for Eagle Grove High School - proving to be a good role model. Angie also felt it was the safest sport for Darci to participate in.

“Cross country is a sport she can do (where her performance) won’t affect anyone else,” she said.

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