Athletes showcase their skills at Special Olympics

Athletes showcase their skills at Special Olympics

More than 300 Special Olympians celebrated their achievements at the two-day event.

AUBURN, Maine — Several hundred athletes, coaches, and supporters from across Maine got a chance to showcase their winter sports skills at the annual Special Olympics Maine Winter Games. 

The two-day event kicked off Wednesday in Auburn. But unseasonably warm temperatures and a lack of snow left organizers of the celebration of inclusivity scrambling to find a new venue for some events. 

Under a brilliant sun Thursday, more than 300 Special Olympics athletes came together to showcase their hard work and determination.

Clicking into ski bindings, athletes from across the state made their way up the slopes of Lost Valley in Auburn. At the bottom of the hill, Special Olympians did some carving of their own on the cross-country trails. Others tore it up racing in snowshoes.

“What do you like about the Special Olympics Winter Games? It’s awesome, awesome,” snowshoe competitor Amanda Fecteau enthused.

The annual competition is also helping build confidence. 

“At first I was kind of worried about my leg getting cramped up, but it wasn’t that bad after a while,” Nick Neptune explained.

Jennifer Cativera is coached by her mom, Regina Kahkonen. Both are members of Central Maine Adaptive Sports. The nonprofit based at Lost Valley provides year-round sports and recreational opportunities, like skiing and snowboarding, for people of all abilities. 

“She loves the camaraderie with everybody and competition of course,” Regina added. 

Cross-country and snowshoe events were originally scheduled to be held at Pineland Farm in New Gloucester, but a serious lack of snow forced the events to relocate last minute to Lost Valley. 

On Wednesday, dozens of athletes skated for glory on the speed skating track at Norway Savings Bank Arena. 

There were also free health screenings at Edward Little High School, including blood pressure checks, to help people with developmental disabilities from falling through the cracks when it comes to getting preventative health care.

Grace Stults is the health and wellness manager for Special Olympics Maine. 

“I follow up with them to see if they need a primary care doctor, if they need follow-up care, and help with their insurance,” Stults explained. 

Two thousand athletes, coaches, and supporters are expected to attend the Special Olympics Maine State Summer Games at the University of Maine on June 7, 8, and 9.

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