After a five-year absence, the Special Olympics will return to Glens Falls, New York this fall.

This morning, Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman and City of Glens Falls Mayor Daniel Hall revealed the news at Glens Falls City Hall. The games will take place on October 23 and 24 at sporting venues throughout the Glens Falls and Queensbury area and is expected to draw nearly 1,300 athletes, as well as their coaches and families from across New York State. Athletes will compete in seven different athletic events in the Glens Falls area including alpine skiing, cross country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, and snowshoe.

Special Olympics New York, the largest state chapter in the country, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Since its inception, the games have served more than 67,000 athletes across the state with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. In addition to the event, the organization also partners with 170 schools in New York to offer Unified Sports and programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families, or caregivers.

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Five years ago, the State Fall Games were eliminated from the Special Olympics New York budget due to financial constraints, leaving 19,000 fall sports athletes without the ability to compete in this signature state-level competition. Hengsterman said in a press release that at every Special Olympics event she’s attended, athletes would ask her when the Fall Games would come back. Now, she’s excited to bring back the annual event and “cannot overstate how thankful we are to the Glens Falls community.”

“State Fall Games represents an opportunity for citizens and employers in the Capital Region to show our support for one of New York State’s most treasured principles – inclusion,” New York State Senator Betty Little said in the release. “We are proud to host Special Olympics New York again in 2020 as the statewide organization celebrates 50 years delivering on its mission of providing sports opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and sharing the important message of inclusion with all New Yorkers.”

To make a donation, get involved, or find more information about Special Olympics New York, visit the organization’s website.