Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Winter Games To Be Held Feb. 7-9 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Select Johnstown, PA Venues

Winter Games Polar Plunge to Kickoff Games on February 6th

(Norristown, PA, January 26, 2016) – More than 300 athletes and 135 coaches will travel to the 2016 Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Winter Games held in Seven Springs and Johnstown, PA from February 7-9th. This statewide competition, taking place at Seven Springs Mountain Resort as well as the Cambria County War Memorial Arena and Planet Ice in Johnstown, will feature competitions in alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and figure and speed skating. This year’s competition will also include a first ever Unified Sports Experience featuring athletes and Unified Partners in a friendly snowshoeing competition for the honor of lighting the cauldron to officially open the Games. Sheetz, Inc. is the Premier Sponsor of this year’s event. To kick off Winter Games a day in advance on Saturday, February 6th, hundreds of brave individuals will be “freezin’ for a reason” during the 2016 Winter Games Polar Plunge. Supporters will brave the cold waters of Canoe Creek State Park Lake in Hollidaysburg, PA at 12 p.m. with the goal of bringing awareness to the 2016 Winter Games and raising funds to help benefit Western PA Special Olympics athletes year-round. The plunge is open to the public ($50 minimum donation to take part) and all spectators are welcome free of charge. Visit www.PlungePA.org for more information. Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Winter Games will begin on Sunday, February 7 at 5:00 p.m. in the Seven Springs Mountain Resort Festival Plaza. The anticipated Opening will feature an array of speakers, performances to motivate and entertain the athletes, fireworks, and commence competition with the official lighting of the Olympic Torch. This year Opening will also feature a unique Super Bowl viewing party and tailgate style dinner for the competing athletes, volunteers, coaches and guests. Competition is slated to begin on Monday, February 8 and will offer a majority of events at Seven Springs Mountain Resort with the exception of figure skating (Cambria County War Memorial Arena) and speed skating (Planet Ice, Richland). Individual, relay, and team events will take place on Monday followed by competition finals on Tuesday morning. Awards and Closing Ceremonies are scheduled to take place at each venue from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on February 9th. The complete Winter Games event schedule is available upon request.
“We are very happy to continue our new relationship with Seven Springs and our long standing partnerships with Planet Ice and the Cambria County War Memorial in the Johnstown area. The ice skating venues have been wonderful to us for many years, and Seven Springs welcomed our athletes, coaches, and volunteers with open arms last year. We truly appreciate the support,” said Mike Ermer, SOPA’s Western Competition Director. “The Winter Games committee has been working diligently to prepare for the 2016 event. Event leads Mike Suman, Sue Putman, and Linda Meyer – in particular – are three members of the committee that have gone above and beyond to help get us ready for the games.” Special Olympics Pennsylvania - 2570 Blvd. of the Generals, Suite 124, Norristown, PA, 19403 Tel + (610) 630-9450 Toll Free + (800) 235-9058 Fax + (610) 630- 9456 www.specialolympicspa.org Created by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation for the benefit of persons with intellectual disabilities Winter Games will also host Healthy Athletes programs where healthy promotions, hearing and dental health screenings will be offered. Our Healthy Athletes program provide health services and education to Special Olympics athletes free of charge, and is changing the way health systems interact with people
with intellectual disabilities. The program has now made Special Olympics the largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities in the world. 

SOPA athletes and coaches from the following city/county programs will compete: Allegheny; Area M; Area P; Armstrong/Indiana Counties; Beaver; Bedford; Bethlehem City; Blair; Bucks; Butler; Cambria; Centre; Chester; Erie City; Lancaster; Lehigh; Lycoming; Montgomery; Northampton; Somerset; Washington; Westmoreland; and York County, as well as the states of Maryland and Virginia. More than 1,000 volunteers from the community, corporations, schools and universities will participate in the event, serving in numerous capacities including officials, athlete escorts, award presenters, and administrative support services. Volunteers from across the state are welcome and spectators are encouraged to visit any of the competition venues to cheer on the athletes. For more information, or to volunteer, contact Mike Ermer at 1-800-233-5161 x 243 or mermer@specialolympicspa.org. Sheetz, Inc., Aerotek, GEICO, Gilbane Construction, W.W. Grainger, Lee Initiatives, Inc., Cove Haven Entertainment Resorts, Pitt Ohio and Primanti Bros. are major sponsors of this year’s event. In addition, WJAC, the Tribune Democrat, and WTAJ will serve as key Winter Games media partners.

About Special Olympics Pennsylvania:
Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year-round training and competition in 21 Olympic-type sports to nearly 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. For more information about how you can help Reveal the Champion Inside thousands of Special Olympics athletes, visit our web site at www.specialolympicspa.org.