Special Olympics Tennessee Winter Games return

On Sunday, the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics Tennessee Winter Games kicked off.
It's been three years since the last meeting.
Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 10:40 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - On Sunday, more than 180 athletes with disabilities gathered outside the Gatlinburg Convention Center for the Special Olympics opening ceremonies.

The athletes participating in the games are from Middle and East Tennessee. The event returns after a three-year absence due to the pandemic.

Justin Bradford, the director of marketing at Special Olympics Tennessee, explained why the return to Gatlinburg for the games is special this time around.

“For us to be back in Gatlinburg and us to have the naturalness of the opening ceremonies where all these different areas from across the state get to come together finally for the first time in three years, it means so much to our athletes,” Bradford said.

Personnel with the Gatlinburg Police Department, Sevierville Sheriff’s Office, Pigeon Forge Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol joined Special Olympics Tennessee athletes on the Flame of Hope’s journey to light the cauldron, marking the opening of the ceremonies.

The games will be held at Ober Mountain and Rocky Top Sports World until Tuesday. Participants will compete in snowboarding, speed skating and skiing.

Andrew Williams, an athlete in the Special Olympics Winter Games, explained how he competes in multiple sports competitions.

“I used to do like five every year, like 11 years, and then my body just tearing up all the time. I just do skiing and golf now,” Williams said.

You can learn more about Special Olympics Tennessee by visiting its official website.