About 1,000 athletes and coaches from around the state are in Rochester this weekend for the 50th Special Olympics New York Winter Games.
The participants have outplayed more than 30,000 of their peers to earn a shot at an Olympic gold medal in six winter sports, according to Stacey Hengsterman, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York.
“They have won their regional competitions,” she said. “They’ve trained hard and this is their statewide finals. So they’re excited, we’re excited there’s going to be some great competitions.
Hengsterman encouraged the community to come out to the event’s various venues to cheer on the athletes.
“They’ve come all this way, they’re away from home, they’re coming here to compete, and not always going to have all their big cheering sections,” she said. “So we’re really counting on Rochester to just come out and be a fan in the stands.”
The athletes will be competing in six winter sports. Click here for the weekend schedule.
Hengsterman added that the athletes will be going for the gold, but they’re also very supportive of their competitors and teammates.
“I really think by us showing inclusion and advocating really for inclusion, that everybody deserves the right to play authentically,” she said.
Opening ceremonies for the games start at 8 tonight at the Riverside Convention Center.
This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.