Volunteers needed to fill stands and cheer
The Hudson Valley will host the Special Olympics State Winter Games for the first time later this month at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie. More than 900 athletes are expected to compete.
The games begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19, with the opening ceremonies, a Law Enforcement Torch Run, a parade of athletes, motivational speeches and entertainment.
The competitions on Saturday, Feb. 20, include alpine skiing at the Holiday Mountain Ski Area in Monticello, figure and speed skating at the McCann Ice Arena in Poughkeepsie, cross-country and snowshoeing at Bowdoin Park in Poughkeepsie and floor hockey at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh. The Civic Center will host the closing ceremonies and a victory dance at 6:30 p.m.
To wrap up the weekend, Special Olympics New York will host the Fishkill Polar Plunge at Sharpe Environmental Center on Sunday, Feb. 21. Participants are asked to raise at least $100 to receive a Polar Plunge sweatshirt. Register at polarplungeny.org. Last year the event raised more than $135,000.
The Hudson Valley region will send 115 athletes to the Games from Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Orange, Westchester and Rockland counties. The co-chairs of the event are Mary Kay Vrba, president and CEO of Dutchess Tourism, Inc., and Frank M. Castella, Jr., president and CEO of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. Athletes and their families attend at no cost.
Special Olympics New York is still in search of volunteers to fill the stands. Visit specialolympicsny.org to register, although walk-ups are welcome. State officials say Dutchess County has already broken the organization’s volunteering record, with some 750 residents already committed to cheer.