GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Wednesday, a game of bocce ball was underway at City Park in downtown Glens Falls. Some players were local athletes, others city employees; and all were there for the same purpose.

Members of Special Olympics New York joined city officials at the park gazebo to talk about the 2023 Fall Games, an annual tradition of Special Olympics New York that brings as many as 1,000 athletes to town annually. The event was introduced by Jude Killar, a longtime athlete and an employee of the organization since 2019. Then and now alike, it’s all about the people you meet.

“Going to the state Special Olympic Games as an athlete is a great experience – not just to play, but also for newer people who have just joined Special Olympics,” said Killar. “I’ve met other players, when I played basketball, and they’re really good to know and talk with. “

The 2023 Fall Games kick off on Friday, Oct. 20, and run through Saturday, Oct. 21. Every fall’s slate of games is dispersed across various locations in Glens Falls, Queensbury, and Saratoga.

This year, locations include:

  • Glens Falls City Park
    • Used for opening and closing ceremonies
  • Adirondack Sports Complex, Queensbury
    • Bocce
  • Cole’s Woods, Glens Falls
    • Cross-country running
  • SUNY Adirondack, Queensbury
    • Cycling
  • Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs
    • Equestrian sports
  • Brookhaven Golf Course, Porter Corners
    • Golf
  • Morse Athletic Complex, Glens Falls
    • Soccer
    • Softball

This year, younger athletes have a role in the festivities. The Special Olympics Young Athletes program is giving students from local elementary schools the chance to compete in their own way. The weekend also includes a meeting of the New York State Athlete Leadership Council.

The games may be a month out, but organizers need all hands on deck – and they need a head count soon. Volunteers are being welcomed for everything from handing out medals to keeping athletes fed, with registration open now.

“We have 400 volunteer jobs to fill, and we know that this community will show up for our athletes, as it has year, after year, after year,” said Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “We look forward to another spectacular State Games in Glens Falls, a community that so clearly values the contributions of people with intellectual disabilities and always chooses to include.”

This year’s Fall Games also benefit from a 50/50 raffle to offset costs. Tickets are on sale for $10 each.