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Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics canceled for second year amid COVID concerns

Ravalli Republic - 1/27/2022

Jan. 27—In its 35-year history, the Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics has never missed a year before the last two.

The event that normally draws close to 150 Special Olympic athletes and a couple hundred more volunteers and supporters to the Lost Trail Ski Area this time of year was canceled for the second year in a row due to COVID concerns.

"We just weren't physically able to do it," said longtime organizer Randy Hodgson. "We're in such tight quarters up there, we just didn't have much of a choice."

Hodgson started the first Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics competition with 17 athletes from two schools. Since then it's grown to include athletes from 11 different entities for the two-day competition.

"We initially thought we might be able to pull it off this year, but the spread of this new strain put a damper on those plans," he said. "I know that it disappointed a lot of people. For many of our athletes, this is one of their best opportunities to get outside and socialize."

Hodgson fielded quite a few phone calls from the athletes, their families, coaches and volunteers who were all hoping that there was some way that it could work.

"We had never missed a year until last year," Hodgson said. "And now we've had misses on back-to-back years."

If everything works out, he said they will be back at the ski area next year to host the event.

"I hope that our volunteer base doesn't fall asleep and go away," he said. "Hopefully, we'll shake the windows and everyone will come out of the woodwork."

"It's such a fun activity for everyone who gets involved," Hodgson said. "Everybody walks away with a smile."


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