January 23, 2007
A tradition which has been going on for decades at Wintergreen Resort to foster relationships among those with intellectual abilities recently wrapped-up its run for 2007.
"This is really fun. I hope I win medals," said Special Olympian Shannon Flannagan.
"I like it. It is fun, and I am enjoying it," said Special Olympian Matthew Clark.
Those two athletes are members of Special Olympics Virginia taking part in the 30th Annual Alpine Skiing Championships at Wintergreen.
The two day event featured more than 100 athletes with intellectual disabilities who are "going for the gold" on beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of skiing.
"I hope I've won three gold medals," added Flannagan.
Shannon Flannagan has the right attitude, but Special Olympics Virginia President Rick Jeffrey said the winter games are about more than just winning. It is about relationships.
"Relationships with our skiers to others skiers from around the state. Relationships of our skiers with the volunteers and media. It allows an opportunity for them to build a relationship, so people can see a value of people who are different than they are," said Rick Jeffrey.
Woodbridge, Virginia resident Matthew Clark knows what that means.
"It feels good, and I like it. I like all the people around me. I am glad I came up to do this," added Clark.
There is just one more thing to do after all the competitions are over and the relationships are made.
Shannon Flannagan knows, and that is stepping onto the platform to accept the medals which are golden when it comes to making friendships.
The Alpine Skiing Championships at Wintergreen are the second of six championship events in 2007 for Special Olympics Virginia.