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Colorado Special Olympics Winter Games attract 500 athletes

Hundreds of Special Olympics’ athletes and volunteers gathered at Copper Mountain Resort and Dobson Ice Arena in Vail, CO on March 28 and 29 to witness feats of individual will and talent.
The annual Winter Games in Colorado celebrate the end of the winter sports season for these athletes around the state who compete in six areas: Alpine skiing, Cross-Country skiing, Snowshoeing, Snowboarding, Figure and Speed Skating. The 500 male and female athletes, ranging from 8 to 66, participated through forty plus delegations statewide.

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These 32nd Winter Games were made all the sweeter because, for a while, they had been cancelled. Donation levels, not up to their usual this year because of the economy, concerned organizers, who put the Games on hold. Two months ago, a generous couple stepped forward to offer their help, but wanted to stay anonymous. They picked up the costs of travel, meals and lodging for the athletes estimated at over $75,000. All Special Olympic events are always open to the public.

While the winter sports program has now ended, Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO) welcomes athletes of all ability levels from age 8 and older year round. See more details about applying for participation.  Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Founded in 1962 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver as a camp for people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics launched its global reach with the Intellectual Special Olympic Games in 1968 held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Today more than 2.25 million Special Olympics athletes compete worldwide in more than 160 countries. The United States Olympics Committee (USOC) and the International Olympics Committee have officially recognized Special Olympics.

Special Olympics Colorado held its first event, Summer Games, at Aurora Hinckley High School in 1969 and now serves over 10,000 athletes who compete all year in over 20 sports. SOCO depends on donations and fundraising activities to open its doors to athletes of all ability levels at no charge to individuals or families.

Special Olympics launched “Spread the Word to End the R-Word” campaign, designed by youth to purge language of the word “retard” as one used casually by teens and others to disparage another person or an idea.

Every April in Colorado, Safeway sponsors a combined fundraising effort for Special Olympics and Easter Seals Colorado, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Lakewood, CO that serves people of every age with disabilities. Watch the video below to see the spirited launch of Safeway’s April 2009 event. This year’s official launch takes place on Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at the Denver Safeway located at 14th Avenue and Krameria.

Another Denver-based institution, American Furniture Warehouse (AFW), is currently holding its annual Easter fundraising event to benefit Easter Seals Colorado. Founder and philanthropist, Jake Jabs, donates a percentage of every sale made during the 48 hours prior to Easter to the nonprofit that serves people with disabilities throughout the state of Colorado.  
 

Kathryn writes as Denver Disability Examiner, Denver Mobility Products Examiner and Denver Senior Care Examiner Contact for inquiries and to suggest future topics.  Select "subscribe" above to receive Kathryn's articles on a regular basis. 

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