Special Olympics

Monday, February 16, 2015

Idaho Special Olympics Winter Games See Increase in Participation

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 2:57 PM

The Idaho Special Olympics Winter Games will be held in Sun Valley on Feb. 28. - SPECIAL OLYMPICS IDAHO
  • Special Olympics Idaho
  • The Idaho Special Olympics Winter Games will be held in Sun Valley on Feb. 28.

More than 450 athletes statewide will travel to Sun Valley for the 2015 State Winter Games on Feb. 28. The competitions include alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and floor hockey—Idaho Special Olympics' largest winter sport.

According to Special Olympics of Idaho, there has been a 25 percent increase in athlete participation since last year. More floor hockey teams have been added across the state and Opey James Freedle, the director of sports and training for Special Olympics Idaho, said that competition is quickly becoming the most popular. 

"It can get pretty intense," Freedle said. "It's a fun one to watch. It's like ice hockey, but on a court with tennis shoes."

Floor hockey has different divisions, some of which are developmental for athletes to build team skills, and others that are more competitive. 

13 teams consisting of 467 athletes from across the state are attending this year's games. Two athletes will also be introduced at the winter games who will compete in the 2015 World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Olivia Cline of the Four Rivers Team in Payette will compete in aquatics, and Dillon Sanders of the Ghostbusters Team of Boise will compete in track and field.  

The Special Olympics of Idaho is also holding a fundraising event called Plungefest to support its athletes on Feb. 21, where individuals, businesses and organizations can gather pledges and then plunge into a pool of icy water. The event takes place at Eagle Island State Park at 11 a.m. and features live music, food and a PreFunk beer garden.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Franti's fingers still stiff

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 10:30 AM

We just caught Michael Franti's blog post on his shows in Idaho to benefit the Special Olympics. Franti played benefit shows in Boise and in Sun Valley.

We saw him at the Knitting Factory and shot this cell phone picture (yes, citydesk will join the hoards snapping cellie pics at shows, but we refuse to bounce when the performer tells us too, if that makes up for it). 

This is what we wrote (briefly) of the show: Boise became an unexpected international village this week. It was not just Michael Franti who noticed during his packed Monday night benefit concert at the Knitting Factory: "I don't need a passport to walk on this Earth / anywhere I go 'cuz I was made of this Earth / I was born of this Earth / I breathe of this Earth and even with the pain I believe in this Earth." Franti did an upbeat version of his "Everyone Deserves Music" for the Olympians in town and, like many artists who grace our stages, expressed some genuine appreciation for the reggae-funk-starved Boise crowd. 

Franti writes:
It was a huge honor and fantastic fun to play at the 2009 Special Olympic Winter Games in Sun Valley, Idaho. I want to give a big shout out to all the athletes; organizers and volunteers who have continued this journey dedicated to making all people feel special and included. It was a huge community effort and I was particularly moved by receiving a hand knitted blue and white scarf (the Special Olympic colors) from a fan at the show in Boise. Organizers of the event had called to the people of Idaho to make 5000 scarves for the athletes and their families by the time the opening ceremonies began they had received 55,000!!!

When I put it on the next morning I felt the stitching with my fingertips and thought wow someone stayed up late in the night, like my mother did when I was a kid, stitching this scarf for a complete stranger and now those hours are wrapped around my neck (and voice) keeping me warm.
Franti goes on to say his thumb is still numb from playing the outdoor pavilion at Sun Valley and talks about his visit with the athletes.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Biden touches down, touched

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 5:34 PM

From BW Olympic correspondent Mathias Morache:

Dreams come true for many people at the Special Olympics, including for Vice President Joe Biden. Sporting a Vice Presidential red winter jacket, Biden made a quick trip to Boise this afternoon to present the figure skating medals alongside Olympic gold medalist Michelle Kwan, completing a "dream" of his to walk on the ice with Kwan.

With international guests, proud friends and family, and a cluster of secret service agents watching, the vice president and the skater hugged and shook hands with the athletes as the penultimate day of the games drew to a close. Bringing with him the high regards of President Barack Obama, Biden enjoyed a more welcome visit than his predecessor. Unlike Dick Cheney's 2006 visit to Idaho, no protests have yet taken place.

From BW Calendar Guru Elaine Lacaillade:

Vice President Joe Biden appeared out of nowhere at the Qwest Arena just now, wearing a gleaming smile, a blue and white knitted scarf and a red jacket, to thunderous applause from the crowd and seated himself among fans for the last round of figure skating.

Being in the press section at the figure skating events of the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games was exciting enough—watching the athletes twirling, jumping and balancing on metal blades. But seeing Biden and Olympic figure skating medalist Michelle Kwan presenting the athletes with their medals was the icing on an eventful day.

After the last of the couples glided around the rink, the medal stand was quickly constructed and the Vice President, Kwan and all the athletes came out onto the ice.

Biden and Kwan hung fifth through first place medals on the necks of the athletes by, complete with flowers and hugs from the special guest presenters.

Biden took the microphone and shared with the crowd that one of his lifelong dreams had just come true: Being on the ice with Michelle Kwan and being asked to participate in the Special Olympics. He went on to say that President Obama was sorry he missed the opportunity and that the administration would focus on the efforts of the Special Olympics.

BW actually requested a sit down interview with Biden, suggesting a hike in the Foothills or perhaps a trip up to a hot spring. We never heard back from the VEEP’s press office.

[Rest of post removed pending confirmation].

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nadia is coming

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 7:21 AM

The Special Olympics just released an initial list of dignitaries attending the games:

Vivian Fernández de Torrijos, First Lady of Panama; Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Amina of Morocco; Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa); Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho); Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter (Idaho); Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (California); Maria Shriver, First Lady of California; Vanessa Williams, Actress/Musician; Tom Arnold, Actor/Comedian; Johnny Knoxville, Actor/Comedian; Mariel Hemingway, Actress; Darius Rucker, Musician/Artist; Kenny G., Musician/Artist; Scott Glenn, Actor; Lt. Andy Baldwin, TV Personality (ABC “The Bachelor”); Scott Hamilton, Olympic Figure Skater; Bart Conner, Olympic Gymnast; Nadia Comaneci, Olympic Gymnast; Donna de Verona, Olympic Swimmer; Sam Perkins, Former NBA Star; Lucas Radebe, South African football player; Teófilo Cubillas, Peruvian football player, Billy Kidd, Olympic Skier; Casey FitzRandolph, Olympic Speedskater; Carly Patterson, Olympic Gymnast/Singer; Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic Figure Skater...
Any suggestions on who BW should interview during the games? First Lady of Panama? Teófilo? Or perhaps, Nadia Comaneci? 

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dalai Lama disinvited to Special Olympics

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 11:57 AM

A letter from the Dalai Lama's office that just came across the citydesk indicates that an invitation to attend the Special Olympics World Games opening ceremonies in Boise next month was withdrawn.

The U.S. Office of Tibet in New York City says that the Dalai Lama was first invited to attend the opening ceremonies, to be held Feb. 7 at the Idaho Center in Nampa. But according to Dalai Lama spokesman, Lobsang Nyandak, the Chinese government threatened to boycott the games and shut down Special Olympics programs in China, putting pressure on the organizing committee to alter its invite.

After this pressure, which the Tibetan official says was applied in Nov. 2008, the Special Olympics proposed that the Dalai Lama attend the end of the games, but he was already booked elsewhere later that week.

"It is important to realize that if the people in a free and democratic society know-tow [sic] to the political pressure, we are emboldening the other side in their wrong doings. Standing up against injustice will help China become a responsible member of the world community," the Office of Tibet letter reads. See below for the full text.

The Special Olympics World Games responded to a recent letter to the editor in the Mountain Express that first exposed the controversy. The Special Olympics is placing blame on the Dalai Lama for not being able to attend:
"This invitation was still open when the Dalai Lama unfortunately decided he could not attend. Although regrettable, we respect this decision and hope that this inspirational leader will be able to celebrate Special Olympics with us at a future event."
Special Olympics spokeswoman Kirsten Suto Seckler said that the Dalai Lama was invited to attend the games in general and not for a specific portion of the games, much like world leaders in all 180 countries in which the games have a presence.

Nyandak stessed that the Dalai Lama is still praying for a peaceful winter games in Idaho: "It is not the fault of the organizing committee," he said. "We wish that the games be held peacefully and successfully."

KTVB has more response from local Special Olympics organizers.

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