This weekend, Dutchess County will host the Special Olympics New York 2019 Summer Games. The events will bring approximately 1,500 athletes and coaches to the area to compete in eight sports: basketball, bowling, gymnastics, powerlifting, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
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; in 2018, more than 169,000 athletes competed in these eight sports, combined.
“The opportunity to compete in Summer Games motivates our athletes all year, and we are so happy to be celebrating their achievements in Dutchess County,” said Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman said. “The games are truly a partnership between our organization and the host community, and we are so grateful to the local organizers and supporters helping us to make the 2019 games a success.”
“We are honored to welcome the Special Olympics New York home to Dutchess County,” Executive Marc Molinaro said. “Following a tremendously successful Winter Games, thousands of athletes, coaches, family members and spectators will again see how we in Dutchess County ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about individuals of every ability. From our exceptional venues, community spirit and overall inclusiveness, Dutchess County will again show New York state and the nation how to break down barriers and build a community of inclusion. These will be the best games yet!”
Mary Kay Vrba, president and CEO Dutchess Tourism Inc., said, “Our host venues – Vassar College, Dutchess Community College, Mr. Todd’s Gymnastics and Fishkill Bowl – are gearing up for the games and are ready and excited to be a part. We look forward to sharing with the 1,500 athletes and coaches and their families our community pride and all that makes us ‘Distinctly Dutchess.’ We invite our community to cheer on these amazing athletes. It will be a memorable weekend and a moving experience for all involved.”
The 2019 Summer Games are set to begin on Friday at Vassar College with Health & Wellness Performance Stations to prepare the athletes for competition. The final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run leading into opening ceremonies will start at 7 p.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 8 p.m. and include a ceremonial parade of athletes.
Vassar College will also serve as host of the Olympic Village, Healthy Athletes, swimming, basketball, tennis and track and field competitions, as well as closing ceremonies and a victory dance on Saturday.
Just prior to opening ceremonies, the Dutchess/Ulster Law Enforcement Torch Run will start at 7 p.m. and arrive at approximately 9:15 p.m. to carry in the Olympic torch to kickoff the games.
On Saturday, the games will take place at Dutchess Community College (volleyball, powerlifting), Mr. Todd’s Gymnastics (gymnastics), and Fishkill Bowl (bowling).
The full schedule of events is available online here. Hashtag using #SOgamesNY.
Molinaro serves as the honorary chairman of the Summer Games. Co-chairs are Vrba and Frank M. Castella Jr., president and CEO of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. Also returning is the games organizing committee, which help organize the various aspects of the games, secure local community support and sponsorship, and provide a unique “Distinctly Dutchess” feel.
About Special Olympics New York
Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 67,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition and health screenings. The organization also partners with nearly 150 schools statewide to offer unified sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. Learn more at www.specialolympicsNY.org and #SpecialOlympicsNY.