Romona's Kids: NE Ohio student athletes train for games, goodwill

NORTHEAST OHIO (WOIO) - We've seen a lot of tragic events recently, like the terror attacks in Paris and California.

It was a tragedy just like those that inspired one man to organize the International Children's Games, to help create a better world based on friendship through sports.

Now, 18 northeast Ohio athletes are about to head to the winter games in Austria.

The kids, ages 13 to 15, have been training in their sports, getting ready to join 1,200 other kids from all over the world this January in Innsbruck, the site of the 1976 Winter Olympic Games.

"I'm kind of excited! It's going to be fun to race and be in a different country," said Una Willhoite of Bay Village.

Austin Herpst of Chagrin Falls likes the cultural exchange aspect of the trip.

"I'm a little nervous, though, because we get new skates, extreme ones," Herpst said.

Caitlynn Keyser says the teammates will be working on technique.

"And since we've never done long track speed skating, getting the feeling of being on a different track in a different country," Keyser said.

Some of the athletes stopped by the Cleveland 19 studio to talk about how the games are more than sports, they're about goodwill between competitors.

"You want to make a good imprint on them, represent your country well, and let them know, like, you want to be friends with them," said
Kylie Blackburn of Euclid.

Marian Searby showed off the items they're taking to trade with other athletes, including American flag socks and headbands, Cavs jerseys, pins and T-shirts.

Searby is an Alpine skier who's excited to meet other teens with a similar passion for the sport.

"I really want to see all the sights of Innsbruck, taste all the different foods, and see all the different aspects of culture they have in Austria that we don't have here in America," Searby said.

Katherine Boyce and Matthew Nielsen are figure skaters who have been busy training in Strongsville.

"I'm really excited just to see how all the other athletes train, and how good they are and just meet them and see their cultures," said Nielsen. "I hope I can make friendships that I can keep."

The athletes are raising the funds to cover the cost of the trip.

If you would like to help, CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2015 WOIO. All rights reserved.