TOPSHAM — One of the highlights of the year for special athletes at Mt. Ararat Middle school and high school is attending the winter Special Olympic games at Sugarloaf.

Nicholas and Matthew are Special Olympics athletes that took home gold medals representing Mt. Ararat Middle School. (Chris Quattrucci / The Times Record)

This year’s event was full of firsts for the six Mt. Ararat athletes that attended the event at the end of January. A first snowmobile ride, first night away from home, and for some the first time winning a medal.

The winter competition provides the opportunity for athletes to compete in speed skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoe. Nicholas is a seventh grader that took home a silver medal during his first trip to Sugarloaf. He won in his favorite event, the 400-meter snowshoe.

The Mt. Ararat team stayed in two condos at Sugarloaf. Although he competed in two events, he called the weekend “relaxing.” Meals were provided by Special Olympics through various donations. Nicholas, a picky eater, recalled another first experience he had at Sugarloaf.

“I got to try something new,” he said. “A peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“For some of these kids and their parents, this is the first opportunity for them to see their kids participate in an athletic event,” said adaptive physical education teacher Rose Angell.

Matthew is a seventh grader that made the trip with his mom to compete in cross-country skiing. He also took home a silver medal for Mt. Ararat. His favorite part was competing, but it was the support from volunteers that stuck with his mom, Amy.

“I thought it was great,” she said. “The atmosphere and everything was just amazing and seeing all the volunteers.”

For the medal ceremony, local police officers volunteered their time to hand out the medals.

“The police officer gave me a medal,” Nicholas said with a smile. “He seemed friendly to me.”

Parents and teachers involved in the trip said they were touched by the number of people who attended the weekend to help make it all happen.

The athletes involved are resilient, Angell said, noting how cold it was over the weekend.

The Mt. Ararat team saw success at this year’s winter Special Olympics. Middle school students Nicholas, Matthew and Mackenzie each won silver medals in their respective events. For the high school students, Dawson swept gold in all three of his speed skating events. Jared won two golds, with a 47-second 200-meter snowshoe, and Nick won gold in his alpine ski Super G event.

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