The 2016 Maryland Special Olympics Winter Games were held on Monday and Tuesday at the Whitetail Ski Resort.
Photos and text by Barbara Haddock Taylor
107 alpine skiers and 77 snow shoe athletes, along with scores of volunteers, coaches, parents and friends participated in the events.
Special Olympics started in the 1960s with a summer day camp that was run by Eunice and Sargent Shriver in the backyard of their Maryland home. Since the first international competition that was held in 1968, the Special Olympics have grown into a global movement.
Their mission, according to James C. Schmutz, President and CEO of the Maryland chapter, is to provide year-round sports training for people 8 years or older who have intellectual disabilities, “giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship.”
Donors and sponsors raise millions of dollars that enable the athletes to participate free of charge. In 2015, the Maryland law enforcement community raised $3 million dollars for Maryland athletes.
“The intrinsic value of these games is about more than faster times and medals, “according to Schmutz. “Our athletes are creating a world where opportunity is not limited by disability.”