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Special Olympics Winter Games return to North Carolina

Special Olympics is changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.

BLOWING ROCK, N.C. — The Olympics are wrapping up, the Paralympics are on deck and the Special Olympics are back!

In fact, there's a team of athletes in Blowing Rock, North Carolina who are ready to strap on their ski boots after missing two years of the games due to COVID-19. 

“My favorite kind of move is my french fry turn it's when you turn and you keep parallel lines when you turn," Brogan DeBur said.

DeBur has been skiing for five years. Each year, the Special Olympics athletes would typically get the chance to compete in the Alpine Games. However, the last two years of competition have been put on halt by COVID-19.

It's not all bad, though. Some competitors say the extra time helped them get even better.

“We’ve been able to have some really good training camps with small groups of athletes," Jake Harkey, ski director of the Southeast Alipine Games, said.

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The Special Olympics is free of charge with people with intellectual disabilities. Athletes start as young as 10 and compete for a lifetime. 

“I think our oldest is probably 60-ish," Harkey said.

He said not competing has been a real challenge but remembering why the Special Olympics exist has kept everyone going.

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“It’s a way for them to get out here be athletic make friendships a better quality of life for everybody involved," Harkey said.

"What do you get out of skiing with the Special Olympics and others around you," WCNC Charlotte's Ruby Durham asked. 

“I get out of all the troubles of the world," Brogan DeBur replied. 

There’s always an opportunity for people to get involved with the Special Olympics here in North Carolina. Harkey said every county in the state has a program offering sports like basketball flag football and skiing.

 Contact Ruby Durham at rdurham@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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