February 8, 2005
This Friday nearly 1,100 athletes and coaches will be in Syracuse for the Special Olympics New York 2005 Winter Games presented by P&C Food and Pharmacy. The Opening Ceremonies will commence at 8 pm at Driver’s Village Conference Center in Cicero.
The athletes will compete in 7 Olympic-style events on Saturday including floor hockey, floor hockey skills, figure skating, speed skating, alpine skiing, nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Most of the competitions will be held at the Oncenter Complex with alpine skiing being held at the Toggenburg Ski Center and nordic skiing and snowshoeing being held at Highland Forest. Saturday Night’s Closing Ceremonies have been moved to the Oncenter and will begin at 7:30 pm.
Story lines that might be of interest include:
1) Benson Simpson, from Syracuse, was highlighted by Sports Illustrated in its Faces in the Crowd section after his record breaking power lifting performance at the 2004 Summer Games. At the 2005 Winter Games Benson will be playing floor hockey with his two siblings.
2) Dr. Daryl Gross, the new Athletic Director for Syracuse University, will be making his first public appearance in Syracuse after officially taking the job. He’ll be joined by the Syracuse Cheerleading Squad at Opening Ceremonies.
3) Twenty New York athletes will be representing the state and country at the 2005 World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan later this month. The North East Knights, the first floor hockey team from New York to compete at a World Games, will be competing in Syracuse as a warm-up.
4) In addition to the Northeast Knights, four skiers from New York will be competing in Japan, including Andrew Beyel of Rome, who will show his nordic skiing skills at Highland Forest.
5) It is impossible to hold an event like this without the many volunteers who give their time and energy. Of the hundreds that will help helping out, several are soldiers stationed at Fort Drum. They are coming to Syracuse on their days off to ensure that the athletes have a top notch sporting experience.
6) Students will also be traveling to Syracuse from the University at Buffalo Dental School, SUNY College of Optometry and Springfield College to volunteer for Healthy Athletes screenings.
7) A Canadian Floor Hockey team, the Mississauga Lightning, will be competing at the Winter Games. The team held fundraisers to cover their transportation and lodging just to be a part of the Games and compete with the best teams in New York.
The Special Olympics New York Winter Games presented by P & C Food & Pharmacy, are also sponsored by Niagara Mohawk: a National Grid Company, the New York Lottery, New York State United Teachers, Advance Auto Parts, Merrill Lynch, Sensis Corporation, the Gifford Foundation, HealthNow, Welch Allyn, Sunny 102 and Tobacco Free Sports.