Special Olympics Headed to Hudson Valley in 2016

Poughkeepsie, NY - The Special Olympics New York Winter Games will be hosted in the Hudson Valley, from February 19-21, 2016, the first time ever these annual statewide games have come to Dutchess and Orange counties.   More than 1,000 athletes and coaches will travel from around the state to compete in a variety of winter sports at venues in Dutchess, Orange and Sullivan counties.  

“The Hudson Valley has welcomed the Special Olympics with open arms and we are thrilled to bring our Winter Games to the region in 2016,” said Neal Johnson, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York.  “The support we have received from the Hudson Valley has been unprecedented and it clearly demonstrates how important our Games are to so many people.”

“Dutchess County is proud to welcome athletes, families and supporters of the Special Olympics New York Winter Games. Special Olympic athletes remind us that challenges and obstacles can be overcome and inspire us all to THINK DIFFERENTLY,” said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.    “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.”

“This is a very special honor for Dutchess County and the region. It's also a source of great personal pride and celebration. 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,” Molinaro added. 

The 2016 Winter Games will commence on February 19, 2016 with Opening Ceremonies, including a ceremonial parade of athletes, motivational speeches, local entertainment and the Law Enforcement Torch Run at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in the City of Poughkeepsie, which will also host an Olympic Village throughout the weekend. The Mid-Hudson Civic Center will also host Closing Ceremonies and a Victory Dance on February 20, 2016.

Event venues include:

  • Alpine Skiing – Holiday Mountain Ski Area, 99 Holiday Mountain Rd in Monticello
  • Figure and Speed Skating – McCann Ice Arena, 14 Civic Center Plaza in the City of Poughkeepsie
  • Floor Hockey – Orange County
  • Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing – Bowdoin Park,  85 Sheafe Road in the Town of Poughkeepsie

County Executive Molinaro will serve as the Honorary Chair of the event.   A Games Organizing Committee (GOC) has been established to organize the various aspects of the games, secure local community support and sponsorship and provide a unique Hudson Valley feel to the Games.   The Co-Chairs of the 2016 State Winter Games GOC 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.

“The Hudson Valley’s commitment to the Special Olympics Winter Games is unprecedented, as the region has secured more in-kind support than any other in the history of the event.  This will be the first time ever that all event venues have been made available at no cost to Special Olympics New York.  The region is proud continue the Special Olympics mission of providing athletes with positive, life-affirming experiences at no cost to them or their families,” Mr. Castella said.

“Hosting the Special Olympics Winter Games is an honor for Dutchess County and the region, as a whole. We look forward to providing participants and their supporters with a memorable experience – one that will make them proud to be part of Special Olympics New York and one that will bring pride to Dutchess County residents for having hosted them,” Ms. Vrba said.

The 2016 Special Olympic Winter Games will require extensive local support to be as successful as possible.   Local volunteers – individuals or groups – will be needed for various jobs throughout the weekend. For more information and to register online, please visit www.specialolympicsny.org or email volunteer@nyso.org.    Local businesses and organizations can also provide support through a range of sponsorship opportunities.   For more information about sponsorships, contact Renee Snyder, Vice President of Development & Public Awareness, 518-203-8348 or rsnyder@nyso.org; or Teresa Gilli, Director of Development at 845-765-2497 Ext. 201 or tgilli@nyso.org

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.  These Winter Games are one of three annual state games and one of more than 5,000 total competitive experiences held each year throughout New York.    Special Olympics New York athletes train and compete year-round in 22 sports, the Young Athletes Program and the Motor Activities Training Program – at no cost to the athletes, their families or their caregivers.  

“Special Olympics has helped me in so many ways. From playing better sports, learning to work with others and making new friends, Special Olympics is my passion. They are my family,” said Bobby Wilson, a City of Poughkeepsie resident who has been a Special Olympics New York athlete for 27 years.

“We look forward to these Games and the chance to cheer for our own local Special Olympic athletes  like Bobby Wilson, as well as welcome Special Olympic athletes from across New York State to our beautiful region,” concluded County Executive Molinaro.