Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games conclude today at Blue Knob

More than 250 Special Olympic athletes continue on their quest for gold today at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort.
The resort is the venue for the 2003 Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games skiing event. This is the third year in a row that Blue Knob hosted the alpine and cross country skiing competitions.
“Everybody is having such a great time here,” said Tim Lyons, director of marketing with Blue Knob and a coordinator of this year’s Special Olympics event. “There are a lot of athletes out here giving their best, competing hard and having a good time.”
The events kicked off Tuesday evening with opening ceremonies at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Jerry Davitch, a former football coach at the United States Air Force Academy and the University of Idaho and current superintendent of Conemaugh Township Area School District, was the 2003 Winter Games Honorary Chairman and spoke at the ceremonies, offering words of encouragement to all the athletes.
“He’s such a good man,” said Lyons. “He spoke very well and the athletes seemed to enjoy his little talk. He was a good choice.”
Competitions began yesterday with opening rounds of both alpine and Nordic skiing events. The finals are scheduled for this afternoon.
“So far, the event has been running smoothly,” said Lyons yesterday. “We know the athletes are enjoying themselves and having a good time with the events. This is our third year doing this and it seems to be getting bigger and better every year. Once we finish things up here (today), we’ll be looking forward to next year’s event.”
According to Lyons, it’s the volunteers that really make the event “shine.”
“For each athlete we have here, we must also have a chaperone,” said Lyons. “Right there there are at least 250 volunteers. Add in all the help we needed to get the skiing areas ready, cook food and serve everybody lunch, and the number of volunteers reaches well over 400.”
The event will conclude this evening with Closing Ceremonies at the War Memorial.
Athletes from all across Pennsylvania are in attendance, representing the following counties: Adams, Allegheny, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Bethlehem, Blair, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Lycoming, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Susqeuhanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming and York.
Special Olympic Pennsylvania provides year round training and competition in 23 Olympic-type sports to more than 25,000 children and adults with mental retardation or closely related development disabilities. Special Olympics helps people with mental retardation develop fitness, demonstrate courage and inspire greatness.