Special Olympics Michigan Athletes Compete in 2016 Winter Games

Athletes, volunteers and coaches are showing their excitement as the 2016 Special Olympics Winter Games begin.

Before tonight’s opening ceremonies began teams were out competing in time trials.   

“To win, to get some medals and to have fun.”

That’s exactly what the Special Olympics Michigan Winter Games are all about.

With over 900 athletes in Northern Michigan, the 40th Annual State Winter Games have begun.

“They want to do their best, and win and they want to compete. So that’s exciting,” says Dan Ekonen, Director of Unified Sports Initiatives. “One of the other things they get geared up for is opening ceremonies as well. It’s kind of their first time to shine.”

From skiing to snowshoe racing and figure skating, the athletes are ready to give it their all.

“It’s fun, we have good teammates and good coaches and volunteers,” says athlete Dylan Brown.

“Being out here with my friends and meeting new people and seeing signs with my name on them out in the audience,” Jantrell Cumming says.

The games bring in hundreds of volunteers, like Zach Warner who came all the way from Utah.

“The experience is too good to miss out on and if I can make my way back this way I will do it anytime,” Warner says. “That’s kind of the story of Special Olympics. Once you volunteer one time you want to keep coming back.”

The athletes have one message for everyone as the competition begins.

“Just go for your dreams and never give up and good luck skaters and Special Olympics!” Cummings says.

Finals competitions begin tomorrow. You can find a full schedule here.