A SOMI athlete learns about Zollipops from Alina and Tom Morse at the 2016 State Summer Games presented by SpartanNash.

Special Olympics Michigan had a very special guest at the 2016 State Summer Games presented by SpartanNash, Zollipops - a company founded by Michigan Native Alina Morse, 11. Zollipops is a company that specializes in a one-of-a-kind "candy" that is actually good for you.

Alina and her father, Tom, set up a stand in the Healthy Athletes area, which is where the athletes go for check-ups, advice and healthy goodies. Upon my first encounter, I could tell the athletes were loving zollipops. Athletes were intrigued to learn that this "candy" was actually something good for them. Their faces lit up when they tried them; it was obvious they didn't expect something so healthy to actually taste so good.

"This all started with Special Olympics Special Smiles," Tom said. Special Smiles is part of Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program. "Special Olympics invited us to their national office - it was an incredible experience," he continued, "It is such a great organization, and our missions are aligned: we want to help kids and adults take better care of their bodies -- we share that same goal."

Zollipops started when Alina was just 7-years-old. She went to the bank with her father, and when she was offered a lollipop her father told her that they are bad for her. That moment she thought "why not make a lollipop that is good for me?".

Zollipops founder Alina Morse

It took off from there, with research and talking to various dentists, eventually leading to 15 trials before settling on the main ingredients: xylitol, erythritol and stevia. These ingredients, according to Alina and Tom, help balance the acidity, or pH, in your mouth, which can help reduce the amount of tooth-decaying bacteria.

Zollipops is produced in Michigan with non-GMO ingredients. It is offered in stores such as Whole Foods, Costco, Meijer and more; Online retailers Amazon and Jet are also selling Zollipops. More retailers are in the works, according to Tom, and they are also talking with the Military to have it offered in stores on military bases.

For more information about Zollipops, please visit http://www.zollipops.com

For more information on Special Olympics Healthy Atheletes, please visit http://www.somi.org/programs/healthy-athletes.html