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      Oneida teen gears up for Special Olympics NY

      It hasnâ??t been an easy journey, but one Oneida teenâ??s never-say-canâ??t attitude has earned her the privilege to compete in this winterâ??s Special Olympics New York.

      At the age of eight Nicole Clapper decided to take on one of the most competitive and nuanced sports: figure skating. But unlike her peers, Clapper faced an additional challenge in learning the demanding new sport. She was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, the affects of which make it extremely difficult for Clapper to learn new things, and even harder for her to remember them.

      Those affects are felt primarily in school. Clapper is a junior at Oneida High School and struggles to keep up in the classroom. At the rink, however, Clapper watches the differences between herself and her peers disappear.

      â??I feel the same as them,â?? said Clapper. â??Not in school, but here I donâ??t feel like my disability gets in the way.â??

      The Special Olympics New York will be held in Syracuse from Feb. 21-23, 2014. Nicole will compete in figure skating and has also been invited to compete in the National Summer Special Olympics Games in gymnastics next summer.

      If you are interested in volunteering at this yearâ??s event, you can find more information and an online registration at www.specialolympicsny.org, or by emailing volunteer@nyso.org.

      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.