Athletes set to compete in Special OlympicsPublished 9:18pm Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Eight Beaufort County residents will hit the slopes next week in hopes of bringing home the gold.
The 2013 Special Olympics North Carolina Winter Games will be held at the Appalachian Ski Mountain Sunday and Monday, Jan. 6 and 7. Olympic events include alpine skiing and snowboarding.
Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for more than 38,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The programs are for those who have been identified as having an intellectual disability such as Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, autism and Fragile X Syndrome. More than 120 athletes and coaches from 24 local programs in North Carolina and Virginia will participate in this year’s winter games.
The local team is open to those who live in Beaufort or Hyde County and is the only eastern North Carolina team scheduled to compete. Beaufort County resident Sandra Buckman, who has attended past games, said members of this year’s team are all from Beaufort.
“It’s fun to go and a really good time. It’s amazing to watch,” Buckman said.
Athletes start participating in athletic programs as early as age 2 and can continue to compete as long as they want. Beaufort County will be sending a 9-year-old to next week’s competition.
The Beaufort/Hyde team is the only one in eastern North Carolina. While they may be in great condition, few have been able to practice.
“They can’t practice for it at all,” Buckman said. “This is the one event that they can’t practice for. And some of them want to snowboard.”
Of the eight, five have participated in previous winter events. Some have never been on skis, others are expected to move on to regional competition, the Southeast Winter Games, in February.
“It’s quite an athletic group that shows up to this. Two, sometimes three, (of the Beaufort/Hyde team) qualify to go back,” Buckman said.
Opening ceremonies will be held at French Swiss Ski College at Appalachian Ski Mountain, Sunday at 2 p.m. After opening ceremonies, many of Beaufort’s team will hit the slopes for the first time. A two-hour session of practice and instruction is scheduled for that afternoon.
Special Olympics North Carolina also hosts the Southeast Winter Games. The 2013 SE Winter Games will be held at the French Swiss Ski College Feb. 3-5.
All competition events are free and open to the public. To learn more about the events, visit Special Olympics North Carolina at www.specialolympicsnc.com.