Winter Special Olympics this weekend in Gatlinburg

GATLINBURG--Over 400 athletes, coaches and volunteers from across the state will travel to Gatlinburg for the 2020 State Winter Games January 26-28.

Festivities will kick off with the Law Enforcement Torch Run at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, January 26th. Local officers representing various law enforcement divisions will take the Flame of Hope from the Gatlinburg Welcome Center to the Gatlinburg Convention Center to signify the beginning of the Winter Games. The Opening Ceremony begins at 6:45 p.m. with the Parade of Athletes in Gatlinburg Convention Center. Opening Ceremony is the time to celebrate the accomplishments of the athletes which will include special guest speakers.

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Instructional sessions and time trials begin at 10:15 a.m. on Monday in alpine skiing, snowboarding and speed skating with competitions to be held on Tuesday. All events will take place at Ober Gatlinburg except for the Opening Ceremony and Victory Celebration which will be held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

“This will be our 35th State Winter Games and our athletes are excited to get on the slopes. The incredible staff at the Gatlinburg Convention Center and Ober Gatlinburg continue to roll out the red carpet for our athletes,” said Amy Parker, VP of Marketing and Development for Special Olympics Tennessee. “Local law enforcement has truly embraced our mission and we are very grateful for their continued support. The officers will run the torch up the mountain and through the streets of Gatlinburg where our athletes will eagerly await the arrival of the Flame of Hope.”
 
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“These athletes have trained, practiced and conditioned to compete in the games. Not only are they strong in competition but even stronger in spirit and show us all the meaning of quality sportsmanship” said Victoria Mehren, Director of Competitions for Special Olympics Tennessee.
 
Special Olympics Tennessee provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Special Olympics offers more than just competition and local athlete Drew is a wonderful testimony.

Drew has become more aware of people, like him, self-advocates with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics allows him to be physically active and he is never alone by being a part of a caring and encouraging group of people. Attending the 2020 State Winter Games is a validation of his hard work and dedication. This also proves that his coaches and county believe in his abilities to represent them.

Drew said, “This is my chance to show everyone my love for sports and Special Olympics.”