The Iowa Special Olympics Winter Games begin today (Tuesday). Spokeswoman Kearsten Habhab says this is the 21st winter games, and the organization’s held every one of them at the same northeast Iowa venue. Dubuque is the only town in the state she says can hold the group — and with convenient facilities like the area’s ski slopes and the Great Harbor Hotel, the city’s always been very accommodating, so the group just keeps holding its winter games there.
There are about 350 athletes who come from all over the state, accompanied by around 150 chaperones and coaches, and 300 volunteers. Special Olympics holds around 70 events a year around the state, but Habhab says this is a big one. Opening ceremonies are Tuesday evening at the hotel and most of the events go on at the Sundown Ski Resort. Anyone’s welcome to come on out and talk with the participants and their supporters, friends and families, and to see them in action. The Special Olympics Winter Games run through Thursday and include events from alpine skiing and figure skating to snowshoe and a giant slalom, and for participants, the Wednesday-night banquet includes a pool party at the Grand Harbor waterpark.