CANAAN VALLEY, W.Va. – Athletes from all around West Virginia and parts of Virginia gathered on the slopes at Canaan Valley Resort Friday morning to compete in the Special Olympics for the state.
Organizers of the event explained that despite having intellectual disabilities, what makes them compete is the same as anyone.
“Our Special Olympians, they enjoy playing sports just like anybody else enjoys playing sports. It means something to them, right? It gives them a chance to train, to test themselves, to put forth their best efforts and be recognized for that,” said John Corbett, CEO of Special Olympics of West Virginia.
After they hit the slopes Friday, the Olympians and volunteers who put the event on each year gathered at the cafeteria at Canaan to await the awards for each event. Corbett said that’s a moment that can do wonders for these athletes.
“I think it makes them proud, it gives them a sense of self-awareness, self-gratification, that they’ve done something they set out to do, and if we can make their lives better, then we’re going to do that every chance we get,” Corbett said.
While there were plenty of smiles from the winners, there were also plenty of smiles in general. Corbett said just being present at an event like this means a lot to those who compete.
“But at the end of the day, you’ll see it first hand. It’s important to win, but it’s also important to have the chance to try to win and to make new friends while they’re here. And they’ll make lifelong friends while they’re here at Canaan on the ski slopes,” said Corbett.