Special Olympics Winter Games are a team effort

EAST HARTFORD - It takes teamwork to put on an event like the Special Olympics. All year long Special Olympics staff work to organize and coordinate events across the state, but the volunteers make the difference.

"I do Special Olympics to get myself fast, smart, and strong," says Vincent Acquaotta, an athlete from Windsor Locks.

Special Olympics allows anyone of any talent and capacity to be part of a team.

"It’s nice being able to see the athletes perform and do what they like to do. That’s what it’s all about, the athletes," says Paul Robotham, who has been volunteering with the Special Olympics for more than 30 years.

Paul helped start the snowmaking process for the cross country skiing and snowshoeing events. When they were held at Avon Old Farms High School, there were a few years that the snow started to melt before the Special Olympics.

"So we got a bunch of trucks and started moving snow from parking lots and wherever we could find it," says Robotham.

Today, Paul still helps to make sure there is enough snow on the ground.

"We've come all these years and that was almost 30 years ago," he says.

It’s really the volunteers who come together that make sure the Special Olympics happen. In fact, if it wasn’t for a volunteer the floor hockey event may not have had a venue. When the floor hockey event could no longer be held at the Hartford Armory, Bob Gallipeau personally asked the President of Pratt and Whitney to help solve the problem.

"I asked the president of Pratt & Whitney if we could use the Hanger because you have to go to the President to get the Hanger," says Bob Gallipeau. 20 years later, the Special Olympics still uses that space.

"It was an event that I brought here and I want to keep it going," says Gallipeau.

More than 1,200 volunteers make sure the olympics go on, no matter the circumstance.

"To see the smile on everybody’s face and how proud they are of each other.The camaraderie." says Michelle Zettergeren, the Chair of the Board of Directors at Special Olympics CT. "That’s what this is all about."

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