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Rochester to host Special Olympics New York Winter Games Feb. 22-23

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Mon, Jan 14th 2019 12:20 pm

1,000 athletes & coaches from across NYS to compete in 6 winter sports

Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman announced Rochester will host the New York State Winter Games Feb. 22-23. The event will bring approximately 1,000 athletes and coaches to the area to compete in six winter sports: alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

Special Olympics New York athletes train year-round and compete in a series of local events in order to qualify for State Games. It is highly competitive – athletes attending from throughout New York next month have outplayed more than 30,000 of their peers in floor hockey and more than 2,000 of their peers in the five remaining sports.

“The opportunity to compete in Winter Games motivates our athletes all year, and we are so happy to be celebrating their achievements in partnership with the Rochester community,” said Hengsterman, a Rochester native. “The games are truly a shared accomplishment between our organization and the host community, which plays a leading role in attracting volunteers, raising funds, and promoting the event to ensure its success, not only for Special Olympics New York athletes and their families, but for all those who attend. Thank you to our many local organizers and supporters throughout Monroe County.”

Honorary Chairwoman of the 2019 Winter Games is Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. The games organizing committee is led by co-chairs Dennis Mullen, president and founder of The Mullen Group; and Maggie Brooks, vice president of strategic initiatives for the Regional Transit Service.

Volunteers are still needed during competitions Saturday, Feb. 23, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Opportunities include setup, food service, starters, timers, social media ambassadors and fans. Volunteers are asked to register online, at www.specialolympicsNY.org, or by sending an email to [email protected].

Riverside Convention Center will serve as the central location for the Winter Games and host the floor hockey competitions as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. The games will also take place at Swain Resort (alpine skiing, snowboarding), Genesee Valley Sports Complex (figure skating), Bristol Mountain Ski Resort (cross-country skiing), and Cobbs Hill Park (snowshoe).

The Rochester community has a rich history with Special Olympics, dating back to 1979 when the SUNY College at Brockport hosted the International Special Olympics World Summer Games, which featured famous sports figures such as Muhammad Ali, Rafer Johnson, Hank Aaron and Bobby Orr, as well as many celebrities including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christopher Reeve, Phil Donahue, Sally Struthers and Susan St. James. Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, her husband, Sargent Shriver, and her brother, Ted Kennedy, spoke during the opening ceremonies.

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