LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. -- The Special Olympics Kentucky State Winter Games kicked off its 21st consecutive year Sunday evening at Perfect North Slopes.
Nearly 100 Special Olympics Kentucky athletes are expected to take part in the three-day event, competing in alpine skiing and snowshoeing events. Sunday night featured a parade of athletes, Special Olympics Oath and the lighting of the Special Olympics cauldron.
Monday is a day of practice and time trials for the athletes. Practice runs will start at 10:30 a.m. and time trials for all courses will run after lunch. The annual Victory Dinner and Dance will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the East Lodge at Perfect North Slopes.
All competitive runs will be held on Tuesday. All ski and snowshoeing races will begin at 10:30 a.m. Skiers will complete giant slalom and slalom courses on levels ranging from developmental to advanced-plus. Snowshoers will compete in any two of 25-, 50- and 100-meter races. All awards will be presented after lunch during a medals ceremony that will be held in the East Lodge.
"People think that they have limitations. And one of the things that Special Olympics has done for 50 years is overcome the idea that our athletes are limited by their intellectual disabilities," said Mark Buerger, Special Olympics Kentucky communications director. "Just one example that we'll have here with us this week is that we have an athlete who is autistic and is legally blind. He will ski on the most difficult hill that we have out here and he's done it for years."
The State Winter Games are organized by a committee made up primarily of employees and retirees of Dow Corning Corporation in Carrollton, Kentucky, and Kentucky Utilities in Ghent, Kentucky.
Other companies and organizations supporting the Special Olympics Kentucky State Winter Games include Special Olympics Kentucky Year-Round Partners Delta Dental, Texas Roadhouse, Toyota Motor Corporation and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics; Event Sponsors Speedway Children's Charities, Kentucky Utilities, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Indiana Department of Corrections, Louisville Ski Club and Perfect North Slopes. Kentucky Fried Chicken of Lawrenceburg and Wendy's of Lawrenceburg will once again combine to provide lunches for all of the event volunteers.
Special Olympics is the world's largest program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participation in competitive events is open to all individuals eight years of age or older. Training and competition in local, area, state, and national programs is offered year-round in Kentucky in 15 sports. In addition to its traditional sports competitions, Special Olympics also offers early childhood programming through the Young Athletes Program and medical screenings though the Healthy Athletes Initiative. Special Olympics is celebrating the program's 50th Anniversary this year.