The New Jersey Special Olympics Winter Games got underway this week at Mountain Creek in Vernon.

The event was canceled last year due to COVID but is back this year with over 100 athletes from all 21 New Jersey counties.

The first day featured four events: Alpine skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Figure skating and speed skating will take place next month.

According to the New Jersey Herald, this year marks the 54th anniversary of the Special Olympics, which began in 1968 as a worldwide program to showcase individuals with intellectual disabilities. Mountain Creek has hosted Special Olympics New Jersey events for 43 years.

The Special Olympics Facebook page says that “Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) provides year-round sports training and athletic competition to thousands of athletes and Unified partners throughout the state, completely free of charge!”

Jeremy Davis of SONJ told the New Jersey Herald that it was good to be back after last year’s competition was scuttled.

The SONJ website describes their mission: Special Olympics New Jersey will foster inclusive communities for people with and without intellectual disabilities through innovative sport, health, wellness and leadership opportunities for Special Olympics athletes, their families and society as a whole.

One of their biggest fundraisers is the Polar Bear Plunge; the Seaside Heights event is Feb. 26. To register to participate or just donate (or take place in the virtual plunge) go here.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle only.

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