Almost 700 athletes will file into the OnCenter in downtown Syracuse this evening to kick-off this year’s New York Special Olympic Games.
The OnCenter will also host floor hockey competition. Alpine skiing will be at Greek Peak. And there are snowshoeing and cross-country ski races too.
Stacey Eder, the volunteer coordinator for the Special Olympics, says having their annual event coincide with the Winter Olympics in Russia will add to the excitement.
"That buzz; that Team USA; that red, white and blue feel absolutely carries over to us. I think people catch that Olympic spirit, they associate us with the Olympics, which is wonderful because that’s what we do – we are the Olympics for people with disabilities," she said. "And we shine for that."
The pomp and circumstance of this evening's opening ceremony gets everyone pumped for the weekend. "It's a really fun time," she said.
The athletes come from all over New York state. They're competing for a chance to move on to the national and eventually world special winter games. Organizers are still looking for volunteers and spectators to cheer on athletes this weekend.
"Be a fan," Eder said, adding they're grateful for the support.
You can find a schedule events on the New York Special Olympic's webpage.