The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 12, 2013

Special Olympics wrap up

JOHNSTOWN — “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

It’s those words of the Special Olympics’ oath that served as inspiration as the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games came to a close in the area on Tuesday.

But before the athletes headed home, they gathered together one last time for awards and closing ceremonies.

This year’s events included speed skating at Planet Ice, cross-country skiing and snowshoe at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort, downhill skiing at Hidden Valley Four Season Resort and figure skating at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

Each venue hosted its own awards and closing ceremonies.

Frannie Findley, venue coordinator for figure skating, said each participant would be presented with a flower arrangement and receive either a medal or ribbon depending on how they finished.

“Everyone is excited and they cheer each other on,” she said. “They’ll tell you they want the gold, but they’re just as happy if they get a silver or bronze.”

Prior to the awards ceremony, members of the Johnstown Figure Skating Club and a pairs team from the White Rose Figure Skating Club from York performed for the athletes.

As the Olympics theme song played, athletes received their awards and stood on the podium posing for pictures.

Joni Talavera from Bethlehem said she has more than 100 medals and has been skating for over 10 years.

“The best part of the awards is all the applause,” the 31-year- old said.

Friends Angel Wagner, 9, from Altoona, and Sage Baughman, 7, from Tyrone, were competing in their second games.

“We like it because we see our friends,” said Angel. “I hope she (Sage) gets first place.”

Findley added that when the games close, athletes are happy and elated with how well they performed.

“There’s no sadness when they leave. It’s just ‘see you next time,’ ” she said.

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