WHITEFISH — It was a fun-filled day at Whitefish Mountain Resort Tuesday as Montana Special Olympic athletes showcased their skills during the Glacier Area Winter Games.
“I don’t care if I win or lose or not, I’m just out there for the fun of it,” said Special Olympic Athlete Carey Stroup.
Fun was had by all Tuesday as more than 70 athletes raced down giant slalom courses ranging anywhere from novice to intermediate and advanced in skill level.
“Some of these athletes have been skiing in the special Olympics and participating with DREAM Adaptive for the last 10-15 to 20 years, which is really, really remarkable, and so special to see them grow through our program and grow through the Special Olympics side of things to,” said DREAM Adaptive Program Manager Maddy Westbrook.
DREAM Adaptive — a non-profit helping persons with disabilities safely recreate outside — helped train special Olympic athletes for weeks prior to the big event. Westbrook said athletes traveled as far away as Eureka to participate in the winter games.
“Some of these groups will do seven consecutive weeks with us, some will do five, it just kind of depends on their age group, but yeah they’re up here starting beginning of January training for this day, we put courses up throughout the season to give them opportunities to practice,” added Wesbrook.
Stroup said he felt his late mother’s presence beside him as he flew down the giant slalom course.
“I feel like somebody was right there beside me, my real mom that passed away in 2007, and I just got close to the gates and just focused and zoned it in,” said Stroup.
Special Olympian Athlete Alison Bowers was easy to spot on the ski hill; she was the one smiling from ear to ear. “Smiling…all the time," said Bowers.