By Melanie DeStefano
The Arc of Warren County’s Ski and Snowshoe Teams all but froze out the competition at the Winter Special Olympics at Mountain Creek last month, taking home a total of 22 medals.
“We are very proud of all of our athletes and the work they do to better their skills,” said Meghan Moyer, Director of Recreation Services at The Arc. “All their work paid off this year.”
Nine skiers and two snowshoe competitors represented The Arc at the games in Vernon, NJ, in early February. Just like the more famous Olympics, athletes must first qualify at the area and sectional levels before taking part in the main event.
In total, the team brought home seven gold medals, nine silver medals, five bronze medals, and one fourth place medal.
Led by a five-person coaching team, Arc athletes work all winter to train and improve on their skills from the previous year. Many have previous experience with winter sports, skiing and snowshoeing with their families, said Moyer, but at least one athlete learned her craft from scratch with the help of the Arc.
Unlike many Olympic competitors, these medalists aren’t full-time athletes with the ability to train all day. The recreation service department at The Arc focuses on providing after-work and after-school activities.
“What we do in the rec. department is just provide a good quality of life,” said Moyer. “Just like anybody wants to not have all work and no play, it’s the same for our participants.”
The Arc provides several branches of support for county residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as their families, with the mission to improve quality of life. The recreation department has activities open to participants ages 5 and older, including Camp Warren, a summer camp in Columbia, NJ, and social activities like dances and Bingo nights.
Popular activities also include the Bowling League (two of their bowlers are headed to the spring state finals April 2), the annual weekend getaway, and a regularly scheduled evening where participants learn about a specific country, watch a movie based there, and enjoy the country’s cuisine.
But athletics are always a popular choice, as well.
Track & Field is one of their biggest events, Moyer said. Their first area meet is May 7 and they usually have several representatives at the summer games. Aquatic events are also popular in the spring-summer season.
The recreation department’s calendar is chock-full from September through May (and of course camp in summer), and Moyer is pleased with the amount of participation. Participation is just part of achieving the “well-balanced, rounded lifestyle” everyone strives for.
Representing The Arc of Warren County at the Winter Games this year were the following individuals: