For the first time ever, from February 19th-21st Dutchess, Orange, and Sullivan counties will host the Special Olympics Winter games. The Hudson Valley is ready for the games, but despite record breaking support, you can still help out.

On Wednesday, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro welcomed Special Olympics New York President and CEO Neal J. Johnson and several local athletes to Bowdoin Park, one of the venues for the 2016 State Winter Games. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to host the 2016 Special Olympics New York State Winter Games next month and show how we in Dutchess County THINK DIFFERENTLY about people of all abilities," Molinaro the Honorary Chair of the 2016 State Winter Games said. "Each day, these athletes inspire each of us to overcome obstacles and challenges, and next month we’ll cheer for them as they strive to achieve – whether that means winning a medal, simply competing, or making new friends. Dutchess County is proud to play a large role in providing these athletes and their families an experience they’ll long cherish.”

The 2016 State Winter Games will begin on February 19th with Opening Ceremonies, including a ceremonial parade of athletes, motivational speeches, local entertainment, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in the City of Poughkeepsie. The Mid-Hudson Civic Center will also host the Closing Ceremonies and a Victory Dance on February 20th.

Events that can be see in the Hudson Valley venues include:
• Figure Skating – McCann Ice Arena, City of Poughkeepsie
• Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing – Bowdoin Park, Town of Poughkeepsie
• Alpine Skiing – Holiday Mountain Ski Area, Monticello
• Floor Hockey – Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh

The 2016 Winter Games have received record-breaking volunteer support, as well as generous local sponsorship support. “We have been overwhelmed with the support the Hudson Valley has shown both Special Olympics New York and the athletes from around New York who will arrive here next month for the 2016 State Winter Games,” Johnson said. “These athletes will be the beneficiaries of the hard work and dedication of countless individuals"

While support has been great, volunteers are still needed to be fans in the stands. Many of the athletes will be coming from all over the state. Because of the great travel distance, many families can't make the trip to cheer on their athletes. For more information on how you can vollunteer to be a fan, visit the Special Olympics New York website.