While the D.C. region was gearing up for the Presidential Inauguration this week, Arlington resident Andrea Molfetto kept her focus on a loftier goal — standing atop a mountain in PyeongChang, Korea. That’s where the Special Olympics coach is headed this week with her alpine skiing team for the World Winter Games.
Andrea has assisted with Special Olympics events since she was in college, and has been a ski coach for the organization since moving to Arlington in 2008. This is her first time accompanying a team to the World Winter Games, which takes place every four years.
Andrea, 11 other coaches, and their 43 ski team members leave for Richmond today where they’ll join other Virginia athletes before heading to Los Angeles tomorrow. Once in L.A., they become Team USA along with athletes from around the country, then travel to Korea on Friday. More than 3,000 people from around the world are expected to visit PyeongChang for the games.
Opening ceremonies take place on January 29 and the games run through February 5. The ski team will be competing nearly every day until the games end.
“It’s pretty intense, but it’s going to be a good time,” Molfetto said. “The athletes are looking forward to it. They worked really heard, they put in a lot of time and energy to get to this point in their states and to represent Team USA.”
Molfetto said that while the Winter Games closely mirror the traditional Olympics, coaching athletes with special needs presents unique challenges.
“It’s easy sometimes because they’re willing and able,” Molfetto said. “But with special needs athletes you do have to deal with outside forces and athletic abilities. Sometimes you have to pick up on signs if an athlete is getting tired. Or if they appear ready to go to the next level, then maybe push them to the next level.”
There will be about three days set aside for sightseeing and meeting the American ambassador before the games begin, but the athletes are mostly focused on getting on the mountain to ski.
“It’s humbling. They are really dedicated. They really want to do a good job,” Molfetto said. “That shows when you’re coaching them and giving them advice. They want to learn, they want to get better. And they teach me things all the time. It’s a a great experience.”
Despite all the time she has spent volunteering with Special Olympics over the years, Molfetto said she’s never experienced anything quite like this.
“I travel a lot for work, I’m a pretty decent international traveler, but never bringing a team somewhere,” said Molfetto. “Never doing something like this, or representing my country in this type of capacity. It’s pretty awesome. I’m honored I’ve been selected to do this.”
Homeless children from a shelter in Arlington will be donating more than $500 to the Special Olympics this afternoon.
The children live in Sullivan House, a shelter for homeless families in Clarendon run by the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless. Together with parents, volunteers, and AACH staff, thirteen children between the ages of five and 13 ran a lemonade stand outside the shelter throughout the summer. They raised just over $1,000, according to AACH Lauren Marigot Barth.
“They learned about customer service, managing money, and marketing,” Barth said. “They also did a really good job!”
The children voted to donate half of the money raised to the Special Olympics. A representative from the organization – which organizes athletic competitions for children and adults with intellectual disabilities — will be on hand at Sullivan House this afternoon to officially receive the donation.
The rest of the money will help to fund a trip to Busch Gardens.
Photos courtesy Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless
It’s all part of Special Olympics Virginia’s “Over the Edge” fundraiser. Today, local celebrities including ABC 7′s Steve Chenevey and Arlington Connection’s Deb Cobb joined Elliot in taking part in the event. They each did a test run from only one story up, then moved on to the big event — a 15 story rappel.
Tomorrow, Friday, the fundraiser is open to the public. Participants are asked to donate $1,000 for the chance to rappel down the side of the hotel. Many groups pooled together money and signed up co-workers for the daredevil stunt.
The event tomorrow runs from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sixty people are signed up to rappel down the hotel, but there are still spots available for people who want to sign up on site. Participants have one month to come up with the $1,000 donation.
More than 2,000 law enforcement officers take part in the eight day Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run, when the torch is carried on a 1,900 mile trek across the state. Forty-seven Arlington County Police Department personnel will participate.
Opening ceremonies begin at the Marine Corps Memorial in Rosslyn at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, June 7, and the torch run begins at 9:30 a.m. During the run, officers will head over the Memorial Bridge, past Gravelly Point, past Reagan National Airport and will hand off the torch at the Alexandria line. Full route details can be found online. Spectators are welcome to cheer on the athletes along the route.
Following the run, which originates in seven different parts of the state, the torch will end up at the Special Olympics Virginia Summer Games Opening Ceremony in Richmond. At that point, a Special Olympics athlete will receive the torch and light the new Olympic Cauldron.
A police chief in Kansas spearheaded the first torch run in 1981 to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics. Virginia’s first torch run took place in 1986.
“Now in its 27th year, the Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run, has raised more than $14 million for Special Olympics Virginia, including a record-breaking $924,000 this year alone,” according to an ACPD press release.
All 50 states as well as 40 countries hold similar torch run events.