POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- The Hudson Valley will host the Special Olympics' New York Winter Games in February, marking the first time the annual event has come to the region.
More than 1,000 athletes and coaches will participate from across the state.
Special Olympics is the largest amateur sports organization in the world. With 65,665 athletes, Special Olympics New York is the largest chapter in North America and the sixth-largest chapter in the world.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro will serve as honorary chairman of the 2016 winter games, set for Feb. 19-21 at sites around Dutchess, Orange and Sullivan counties.
“Dutchess County is proud to welcome athletes, families and supporters of the Special Olympics New York Winter Games,'' Molinaro said in a press statement. "Special Olympic athletes remind us that challenges and obstacles can be overcome and inspire us all to THINK DIFFERENTLY."
Molinaro added, “We are grateful to Dutchess Tourism and Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce for spearheading this effort and we look forward to providing a world-class experience to all those who attend.”
The 2016 Winter Games will commence Feb. 19 with opening ceremonies at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in the City of Poughkeepsie, which will host an Olympic Village. Opening ceremonies include a parade of athletes, motivational speeches, local entertainment and the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The Mid-Hudson Civic Center also will also host closing ceremonies and a Victory Dance on Feb. 20.
Event venues include:
-- Figure and speed skating at McCann Ice Arena, 14 Civic Center Plaza in the City of Poughkeepsie.
-- Nordic skiing and snowshoeing at Bowdoin Park, 85 Sheafe Road in Wappingers Falls.
Co-Chairs of the 2016 State Winter Games 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.
"This is a very special honor for Dutchess County and the region. It's also a source of great personal pride and celebration,'' Molinaro said. "I join fellow special needs families from across New York in committing to making these games great as these athletes compete -- and inspire us all."
For details, visit www.specialolympicsny.org.
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