WATERVILLE VALLEY, New Hampshire ??вЂќ Waterville Valley will host the Special Olympics New Hampshire Winter Games January 30 through February 2. The 2005 Winter Games will mark the twenty-eighth year of this state-wide competition in which athletes with mental challenges enjoy alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and unified sports floor hockey.
“Waterville Valley is a natural choice to host the Special Olympics Winter Games,” says General Manager Tom Day. “Inspired by her sister Rosemary, who passed away earlier this month, it was Eunice Kennedy Shriver who founded the Special Olympics. Waterville Valley was a favorite winter destination of the Kennedy and Shriver families, so we’re especially proud to be carrying the torch for this event in its ninth consecutive year at Waterville Valley.”
More than 500 mentally challenged athletes and some 400 volunteers are expected to attend the 2005 Special Olympics New Hampshire Winter Games at Waterville Valley. All on-mountain events will begin Monday, January 31, while the skating competition will begin Tuesday, February 1, at the Waterville Valley Ice Arena, at 9 a.m. For a complete schedule of events, or for more information, visit www.sonh.org.
The concept of Special Olympics began in 1963, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver held a day camp for people with intellectual disabilities at her home. She saw that mentally challenged individuals were far more capable in sports and physical activities than many experts thought. Special Olympics was founded by Shriver in 1968 with the support of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, and the movement spread throughout the United States and around the world. In 1988, an agreement was concluded with the International Olympic Committee, officially recognizing Special Olympics and endorsing an Olympic partnership.
In New Hampshire, the first Special Olympics Games were held at Phillips Exeter Academy in 1970. One hundred twenty seven athletes competed in track and field events at those games. Today 2,500 participants train and compete statewide in a year-round program that includes 22 sports and dozens of opportunities for competition. State Games culminate in a World Games every two years, alternating between winter and summer sports. This winter, the World Games are scheduled for February 26 to March 5 in Nagano, Japan.
Around the world, there are accredited Special Olympics programs in more than 150 countries. Over 15,000competition events,with almost 1.4 million athletes participating and 500,000 volunteers supporting activities, are held each year.
For more information about Waterville Valley, please visit www.waterville.com, or call 1-800-GO-VALLEY.