Excitement Builds for 2016 Special Olympics New York State Winter Games

Excitement Builds for 2016 Special Olympics
New York State Winter Games

Molinaro Welcomes Local Athletes, Highlights Record-Breaking
Volunteer Effort as Games Approach

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro today welcomed Special Olympics New York President and CEO Neal J. Johnson and several local athletes to Bowdoin Park, one of the venues for the 2016 State Winter Games. Dutchess, Orange and Sullivan counties will host the State Winter Games for the first time ever on Feb. 19th-21st.

The 2016 Special Olympics State Winter Games have received record-breaking volunteer support, as well as generous local sponsorship support.

“We have been overwhelmed with the support the Hudson Valley has shown both Special Olympics New York and the athletes from around New York who will arrive here next month for the 2016 State Winter Games,” Mr. Johnson said. “These athletes will be the beneficiaries of the hard work and dedication of countless individuals – from local officials and the Games Organizing Committee, to hundreds of volunteers who have selflessly given their time – and they’ll enjoy a weekend of competition and camaraderie they’ll never forget. We thank all who have worked to make the 2016 Winter Games the success we all know they will be.”

County Executive Molinaro is the Honorary Chair of the 2016 State Winter Games. The Games Organizing Committee (GOC) is organizing the various aspects of the event, securing local community support and sponsorship, and working to provide a unique Hudson Valley feel to the Games. The Co-Chairs of the 2016 State Winter Games GOC 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.

County Executive Molinaro said, “We are thrilled for the opportunity to host the 2016 Special Olympics New York State Winter Games next month and show how we in Dutchess County THINK DIFFERENTLY about people of all abilities. Each day, these athletes inspire each of us to overcome obstacles and challenges, and next month we’ll cheer for them as they strive to achieve – whether that means winning a medal, simply competing, or making new friends. Dutchess County is proud to play a large role in providing these athletes and their families an experience they’ll long cherish.”

The 2016 State Winter Games will commence on February 19th with Opening Ceremonies, including a ceremonial parade of athletes, motivational speeches, local entertainment, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in the City of Poughkeepsie. The Mid-Hudson Civic Center will also host Closing Ceremonies and a Victory Dance on February 20th.

Event venues include:
• Alpine Skiing – Holiday Mountain Ski Area, 99 Holiday Mountain Road in Monticello
• Figure Skating – McCann Ice Arena, 14 Civic Center Plaza in the City of Poughkeepsie
• Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing – Bowdoin Park, 85 Sheafe Road in the Town of Poughkeepsie
• Floor Hockey – Stewart Air National Guard Base, 1 Maguire Way in Newburgh

“The local response to hosting the 2016 Special Olympics New York State Winter Games has been even better than we could have hoped for, and we appreciate the support we’ve received from businesses and volunteers alike,” Mr. Castella said. “Athletes and their families will be able to enjoy the State Winter Games at no cost – a tribute to the generosity of our local hotels, competition venues and other partners.”

Special Olympics New York is still in search of social volunteers to be Fans in the Stands for the weekend. Athletes will come to the State Winter Games from all over New York, and many families cannot make the trip. Volunteers from the community are needed to attend the competitions, watch and cheer for these champions. For more information, or to Volunteer to Cheer, visit www.SpecialOlympicsNY.org.

“Part of what makes us distinctly Dutchess is the benevolent spirit of our residents, and the outpouring of volunteers has been truly inspiring; we reached our goal of 750 service volunteers early last month, the culmination of a record turnout,” Ms. Vrba said. “As the Winter Games approach, we’re confident local businesses, organizations and teams will sign up en masse to similarly give their time, rooting for these athletes and giving them a big-league experience amid the hometown charm the Hudson Valley has to offer.”

The Platinum Sponsor for the State Winter Games is Westchester Medical Center Health Network. At the Gold sponsorship level, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, Turk Hospitality Group, and Chobani are sponsors. At the Silver level, the Poughkeepsie Galleria, Stenger, Roberts, Davis & Diamond, and Dutchess ARC are sponsors. At the Bronze level, Abilities First, Inc., Anderson Center for Autism, Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Adams Fairacre Farms, Arnoff Moving & Storage, Dutchess County Government, Greystone Programs, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Dutchess Tourism, Inc. are sponsors. Media sponsors include the Poughkeepsie Journal, iHeartRadio, and Pamal Broadcasting.

To wrap up the weekend, Special Olympics New York will host the Fishkill Polar Plunge at Sharpe Reservation on Sunday, February 21st. Participants can support the athletes of Special Olympics New York by taking a dip in the chilly waters. Registration is open at www.PolarplungeNY.org. Donors are asked to raise $100 to receive an official Polar Plunge sweatshirt. The Polar Plunges are the largest fundraising initiative for Special Olympics New York, raising almost $1.5 million in 2015, including over $135,000 in Fishkill.

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