Special Olympics open in Woodstock


Friday, March 20
WOODSTOCK — Approximately 346 athletes from across the state will compete in the 2009 Special Olympics Vermont Winter Games held the weekend of March 18 to 22 at the Woodstock Inn and Resort and Suicide Six Ski Area. Participation in the 2009 Games will represent a 32-percent increase over last year.

The 2009 Special Olympics Vermont Winter Games will be divided into three days of competition including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding. All competition will be held at the Suicide Six Ski Area, while the athletes and coaches will stay at the Woodstock Inn and Resort.

On Wednesday, March 18, schools from around Vermont will compete in the School Unified Snowshoe events. Unified Sports pairs an individual with an intellectual disability (athlete) on the same team as an individual without a disability (partner). The athlete and partner compete together, supporting one another on and off the field. The partnership provides a forum for positive social interaction between students of all abilities.

On Friday evening, the games will kick off with opening ceremonies organized by the Woodstock Rotary. In front of the Woodstock Inn will be a grand stage where athletes participating in the games will be recognized. Bob Hager, former NBC Correspondent and Master of Ceremonies, will lead the athletes into the ceremony. Suicide Six athlete Erin Wood will excite the crowd with a motivational speech while Emma Stanwood and Gabrielle Rozumek (unified partners for Woodstock Elementary) will present the Athlete's Oath "Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

Representative Alison Clarkson will present the invocation. Senator Dick McCormack will be in attendance and Governor Douglas will also welcome the athletes to Woodstock. Local singer Courtney Bridge will sing the National Anthem and the ceremony will end with a boom as fireworks shoot off the top of Mount Tom lighting up the snow covered mountain.

On Day Two, Saturday, snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country and alpine competition will begin. All athletes will receive awards for their efforts. The day of competition will conclude with the Annual Awards Banquet where Special Olympics Vermont recognizes the outstanding efforts of its volunteers and participants. Following the awards banquet, athletes, coaches, friends, family and volunteers will dance the night away at the Inn.

On Day Three, Sunday, the games will conclude with a final day of competition, and the last day for the athletes competing in the Winter Games to show off their athleticism and spirit for the games. The day will end with a barebecue on the deck of the lodge and a brief closing ceremony for the competitors.


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