For the 28th year, Copper Mountain hosts the Special Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 28. Athletes from age 2 to adults will compete in skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing at Copper.
Most people pay attention to Winter and Summer Olympics — and for good reason, as it showcases the most elite athletes and also brings together nations — but the Special Olympics has its own mighty power.
By learning and training in sports they might not otherwise try, people with disabilities improve their quality of life, as well as educate the greater community.
The Special Olympics encourage activity in athletes, while also diminishing bias and intolerance.
“As a result, people with intellectual disabilities become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all,” according to Special Olympic spokespersons.
The sports organization is the largest in the world, serving more than 4.3 million athletes, both medically and athletically. And Copper Mountain is part of that mission, which supports 150,000 Colorado athletes.
“Our athletes inspire us to continue to evolve as an organization as they tell us their stories and share their dreams for the future,” according to the Special Olympics spokespersons.
David Egan, one of the athletes, has found greater happiness, as well as a productive life, thanks to the Special Olympics, his mom says.
Statistics show that the Special Olympics truly makes a difference communitywide: 78 percent of “typically developing” youth say their attitudes toward bullying kids with disability have changes; 75 percent of students with intellectual disabilities have increased their involvement in school; and 84 percent of all students report the program has changed their lives.
Special Olympics Colorado trains more than 19,600 athletes in 22 sports in the state. It takes over 9,000 volunteers, as well as donations to pull off the Special Olympics.
Support even includes “cool” events, such as the Polar Plunge, which took place last weekend and also this weekend in Denver. The plunge, into cold water at Aurora Reservoir, typically draws about 400 people and raises approximately $10,000.
If you’d like to become more involved by volunteering or donating to the Special Olympics, particularly the games at Copper Mountain, visit: http://www.specialolympicsco.org/event/state-winter-games/
Simply attending Copper Mountain’s Special Olympics helps encourage the athletes and make them feel appreciated, so head to Copper Feb. 28 to give a little inspiration — and get a lot of inspiration.
“We invite anyone and everyone to come out and help cheer the athletes on,” says Copper spokesperson Morgan Whitehouse.