GATLINBURG, TN (January 23, 2024) – Special Olympics Tennessee (SOTN) will host its annual Winter Games presented by Wellpoint in Gatlinburg at Ober Mountain, Rocky Top Sports World and Gatlinburg Convention Center. The games will feature five Special Olympics sports with more than 400 athletes from across the state participating.
Special Olympics Tennessee athletes will compete in alpine skiing, snowboarding, speed skating, 3v3 basketball and a Fitness Combine in divisions based on age and ability.
“This year’s Winter Games are slated to be our biggest ever,” said Special Olympics Tennessee President and CEO Adam Germek. “We continue to add events to make our state events more inclusive for athletes across the state. Last year, we added 3v3 basketball and saw a tremendous amount of participation. This year, we’ve added a Fitness Combine for athletes to compete and showcase their athletic skills in training.”
Opening ceremonies will take place Sunday, January 28 at 6:45 PM at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. A special presentation from Wellpoint President Natalie Cooper, a new statewide partner of Special Olympics Tennessee, will take place during opening ceremonies where Wellpoint will present $100,000 to Special Olympics Tennessee. Multiple Tennessee legislators are also set to be present at the event.
On the first day of competition, the mountain torch relay will begin at 9:15 AM on Monday, January 29 followed by the traditional lighting of the Special Olympics Tennessee cauldron at Ober Mountain. Competitions will begin shortly after and will take place through Tuesday, January 30 at Ober Mountain, Rocky Top Sports World and Gatlinburg Convention Center.
Also taking place leading up to Opening Ceremonies will be the first Law Enforcement Torch Run of 2024. Participants from the Knoxville Police Department, Gatlinburg Police Department, Sevierville Sheriff's Office, Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, Pigeon Forge Police Department, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Homeland Security and many others will join Special Olympics Tennessee athletes on the Flame of Hope’s journey to the cauldron beginning at the Gatlinburg Police Department at 4:30 PM on January 28. Torch Run participants will then light the cauldron outside of the Gatlinburg Convention Center at 5:00 PM. The mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run is to raise awareness as well as funds for Special Olympics.
Throughout the weekend, SOTN athletes will also be treated to group dinners, a celebration party after the events and much more.
All competitions are open to the public.