Athletes and coaches get ready for Special Olympics this weekend in Rochester

Feb 21, 2018

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The Olympics in Pyeongchang aren’t the only ones to look out for this weekend.

The New York State Special Olympics will take place all day Saturday in venues across Rochester. Nearly 1,000 athletes and coaches will be in town to compete.

As an Honorary Chair of the winter games, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo hosted some of the athletes in the legislature chambers Wednesday morning.

"Our Special Olympians are truly inspirational I’ll tell you that, from the polar plunge to the games, we are inspired by all of you not just at the games but each and every day. You really are examples of courageousness, of perseverance."

Martha Pachuta is the Alpine Sport Director for the Special Olympics, she says her athletes are very excited to complete, but they could always use more community support.

"These are grassroots programs that really rely on the community in order for these events to be successful. So volunteers are a very integral part. And I know as a sports director there’s no way we could have our events without these volunteers."

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Volunteer duties can range from helping hand out water and keeping time at events. She says cheerleaders are of course also always needed.

One of Pachuta's athletes, Dylan McClurg spoke on what the games mean to him. He will be competing in alpine skiing.

"I’m very proud of being a part of Special Olympics. On behalf of everyone - the staff, our coaches, our athletes, I'd like to personally thank all of them for their continued support and everything they've done, especially Ms. Martha thank you, I love you.”

Taylor Sherman will be hitting the ice to compete in figure skating; she said her favorite part about the sport is “doing all the tricks.”

Taylor's father Jody Sherman says it’s nice to have a place for people with intellectual disabilities to come together.

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"They have no worries at all, they don’t have to worry about what’s going on in the world, they just love being with each other and that puts a smile on my face as a parent."

The Games kick off Friday night at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center - opening ceremonies begin at 8pm. The competitions will run all day Saturday at Swain Resort, Bristol Mountain, Genesee Valley Sports Complex, and the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.