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Special Olympics New York announces Summer Games with lighting of Olympic torch, call for volunteers

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Thu, Mar 14th 2019 01:25 pm

Nearly 1,500 athletes & coaches from across NYS to compete in 8 sports

With three months to go before the 2019 Special Olympics New York Summer Games kick off in Dutchess County, state and local organizers officially opened volunteer registration to the public at a press conference at Mr. Todd’s Gymnastics. Approximately 2,000 volunteers are needed for the Summer Games, which will take place on June 14-15 at venues throughout Dutchess County.

The Mid-Hudson Valley broke volunteer records in 2016 and 2017 when it hosted the Special Olympics New York Winter Games by recruiting more than double the number of volunteers required. Organizers are hoping this can be achieved once again.

“We are so happy to be back in Dutchess County to celebrate our athletes and their achievements,” said Stacey Hengsterman, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York. “The games are a shared accomplishment between our organization and the host community, giving our athletes a great gift – believing in them and providing them an opportunity to showcase their courage and abilities. Thank you to our many local organizers and supporters throughout Dutchess County.”

“We are proud to again host the Special Olympics New York and show the state that in Dutchess County, we ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about those living with disabilities,” said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, honorary chair of the Summer Games. “I urge residents, businesses, teams and civic groups to volunteer as we make the 2019 Summer Games a remarkable and memorable event for all involved.”

With Special Olympics New York athletes looking on, retired Yonkers Police Capt. and New York State Law Enforcement Torch Run Director Joe Barca lit the “flame of hope,” beginning the Summer Games Torch Run. The torch will now make its way across New York, from the Canadian Border to the tip of Long Island, carried by law enforcement for 56 legs of the torch run, before it returns back to Poughkeepsie to light of the cauldron during Opening Ceremonies June 14 at Vassar College.

There are three types of volunteer positions available.

•Service Volunteer: individuals or groups willing to commit and dedicate their day to the athletes by taking on a specific task. These volunteers must be 13 years or older.

•Volunteer to Cheer: otherwise known as “fans in the stands,” these are individuals or groups who would like to cheer on the athletes during competition. These volunteers can be any age.

Social Media Ambassadors: individuals or groups that are social media enthusiasts and would like to capture the moments and publish to Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook.

Vassar College will serve as the central location for the Summer Games and host the aquatics, track and field, basketball and tennis competitions, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. The Games will also take place at Dutchess Community College (powerlifting, volleyball), Mr. Todd’s Gymnastics (gymnastics), and Fishkill Bowl (bowling).

The Co-Chairs of the 2019 Summer Games are Mary Kay Vrba, president and CEO of Dutchess Tourism Inc., and Frank Castella Jr., president and CEO of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on volunteer opportunities and to register, visit SpecialOlympicsNY.org or send an email to [email protected].

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