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      Central New York to host Special Olympics NY Winter Games in February

      Onondaga County will host the Special Olympics New York State Winter Games February 21-23, 2014. The games were last hosted in Onondaga County two years ago, and officials say that the response from the community is whatâ??s bringing them back.

      "We are excited to be back in such a great community," said Neal Johnson, President & CEO of Special Olympics New York. "Syracuse is a natural fit for our Winter Games."

      "Syracuse holds a special place in our hearts for Special Olympics New York. We are thrilled to connect our incredible winter wonderland to this unbelievably important event in 2014 and 2015. Welcome back!" stated David Holder, President of the Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau.

      There will be several events held at venues all over Onondaga County and Central New York. Alpine Skiing events will be held at Greek Peak in Cortland, Cross Country Skiing will be held in Highland Forest in Fabius, Snowshoeing will be at Thornden Park in Syracuse and Figure and Speed Skating events will be held at the War Memorial.

      The OnCenter will be home base for the athletes, and will also host the Floor Hockey Teams and Skills competitions.

      Nicole Clapper, a Special Olympics figure skater from Oneida, says that her handicap means nothing when sheâ??s out on the ice.

      â??Being born with fetal alcohol syndrome has been a challenge for me. It takes me longer to learn things and even longer to remember them. All that disappears when I step out on the ice. Out there, nothing else matters but the ice, the music and me.â??

      Nicole will also compete in the National Summer Special Olympics Games in gymnastics next summer.

      If you are interested in volunteering to help athletes like Nicoleâ??s dreams come true, you can find more information and online registration at, or email

      The Oneida Shores Polar Plunge is an important fundraiser for Special Olympics New York. Last year, the event raised more than $80,000 for Special Olympics New York. 600 people participated, including Sports Director Niko Tamurian. Click here for more information on this yearâ??s polar plunge, which will take place on December 8 at Oneida Shores Park in Brewerton.