MARQUETTE - The 26th annual Winter Games for Special Olympians kicks off Friday with downhill skiing competition at Marquette Mountain Ski Area.
About 140 athletes from across the Upper Peninsula are expected to attend and compete in a variety of sports during the two-day event.
In addition to the downhill skiing competition running throughout the day Friday, there will be a social and dance from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Marquette.
Dan Bartol of Marquette competes in snowshoeing during the 2012 Special Olympics Winter games outside the Superior Dome last January. This year’s games begin Friday with downhill skiing at Marquette Mountain Ski Area. (Journal file photo by Matt Keiser)
Official opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Northern Michigan University's Superior Dome with a parade that will include units from NMU ROTC; Knights of Columbus Honor Guard; State Farm Insurance agents; U.S. Olympic Education Center members; NMU football, hockey, soccer, volleyball and women's track teams; area high school cheerleaders; and Special Olympic athletes from across the U.P.
The ceremonies conclude at 9:40 a.m. and are followed by Saturday competitions, which will include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and physical fitness events.
The event is held in memory of Rico N. Zenti, who was Head of NMU's Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department in the early 1970s when the Special Olympic program was introduced to athletes in the U.P. Zenti offered NMU's resources in support of the games - a commitment that continues.