GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The torch is lit and athletes from across the Empire State are more than ready for this year’s Fall Games Friday.
“I’m here for the Fall Games trying to do my best and hopefully get that gold,” says one athlete.
The games will be in Glens Falls for the next three years says Special Olympics New York President Stacey Hengsterman. The last time athletes were able to participate in the Fall Games was in 2015, also in Glens Falls. The Fall Games were cut in 2015 amid budget concerns.
Economically, the impact the games have on the area in and around Glens Falls is huge. “It’s 500 people. Their coaches, their families are coming into Glens Falls,” says Hengsterman, “we’ve got a very generous grant from the Visitors Bureau of Glens Falls which was great but really we turn that money back over to the hotels everyone’s staying in.”
For the athletes, it’s not so much about competition, rather, the friends and memories made at the games. And, after a year of virtual workouts and exercises, they are ready to be back in-person.
“Just to be able to be back here and just to be able to have opportunities like this just to be able to see a lot of my friends and fellow athletes who I haven’t seen in such a long time is such a win in itself,” says Will Smith of the Hudson Valley.
The games are able to happen thanks to the loosening COVID-19 restrictions. Hengsterman says most athletes have done their part in getting vaccinated for the event. Sports featured at the games include cycling, softball, cross country and bocce ball, along with a few others.
All events are free and open to the public after Friday’s Opening Ceremony.
Special Olympics New York President Stacey Hengsterman made the announcement in August regarding the games return. Games will take place in areas like the Cool Insuring Arena and SUNY Adirondack.
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