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Montana Special Olympics athletes brave the elements to excel - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Montana Special Olympics athletes brave the elements to excel

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LOST TRAIL PASS - There's no mistaking this year's Bitterroot Winter Games for the summer edition of the Special Olympics. 

Yet even near-whiteout conditions can't obscure the enthusiasm of the athletes from all over west-central Montana who are finally getting their chance to compete.

On a day that saw gusty winds whipping the heavy snow showers into a froth, you might think competitors would be reluctant to tackle the elements as the Bitterroot Winter Games opened Tuesday. And while the propane heaters were running full blast, so were the athletes, whether it was the always popular snowshoe races or downhill events. 

It's not just the enthusiasm, and the snow, that makes it such a successful event. It also takes dozens of volunteers and the support of many sponsors to make sure it happens every year.

"We have such great community support. I mean obviously Lost Trail Powder Mountain does wonders. The Hamilton Golf Course helps out a ton. Global Wireless becomes involved and helps us put on our Hacker Golf Tournament," said Randy Hodgson with the Bitterroot Winter Games. "I could go on and one about the community organizations, Knights of Columbus, Rotary Clubs. I mean it goes on and on and this community has jumped behind it something fierce." 

"And to give you an example, it's like the Sula Women's Club made cookies. Just a small little group made cookies. And so that's one end of the spectrum, and it's great. It's great. You couldn't get it done without all help," Hodgson added.

Hugs and encouragement and friendships don't hurt either, paying attention to every detail, both for safety and performance.

"If they get the opportunity to see these athletes with the smiles and the grins and the happiness, it makes it all worthwhile, I don't care if donated five-bucks or 500. It's all amazing. Amazing," Hodgson concluded.

The Bitterroot Winter Games will continue Wednesday morning into the early afternoon and anyone is more than welcome to come up and cheer for the athletes. 

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