GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – One year ago, Mayor Bill Collins stood in front of Glens Falls City Hall to join in the announcement that Special Olympics New York would be bringing the State Fall Games to his hometown. The difference: Last year, he wasn’t mayor yet.
On Wednesday, Collins welcomed Special Olympics New York to the very same city hall to announce that the Fall Games would return again to Glens Falls this Oct. 21-22. The games are expected to bring upward of 1,300 athletes to the Glens Falls region – more than three times the number who came to compete last year.
“It’s very special to have such a deep understanding of such a great nonprofit – of course, I worked for them for 18 years, so I’m a little biased,” said Collins, who served as Director of Training & Competition for Special Olympics New York prior to being elected mayor this year. “I couldn’t be more honored to accept and welcome these athletes back to Glens Falls.”
Although focused in Glens Falls, the Fall Games will encompass not only venues in the city, but also ones in Queensbury and Saratoga Springs. The full list of sports and venues includes:
- Glens Falls City Park
- Opening and closing ceremonies
- Adirondack Sports Complex
- Cole’s Woods
- SUNY Adirondack
- Skidmore College
- Brookhaven Golf Course
- Morse Athletic Complex
Special Olympian Jude Killar emceed the announcement. Killar is an athlete who has competed in multiple sports in the state, and became part of the organization’s staff in 2019.
He was one of several other athletes at City Hall on Wednesday. Cousin athletes Bryce Reynolds and Derek Call, both of Hudson Falls, spoke as part of the South Glens Falls Diamond Dawgs – a team made up of local area athletes that will take part in the games. The cousins have been involved in sports together for their whole lives, and are excited to continue that this fall, with Reynolds playing second baseman in softball and Call serving as team coach.
“To make these the best Fall Games yet, we really need help from all of you,” said Reynolds, making a request echoed by everyone in front of City Hall. “Please volunteer for the Fall Games. It will be fun, and you will get to see some great competitions.”
The need for volunteers is very real. Special Olympics New York CEO Stacey Hengsterman said that the organization is hoping to amass 350 volunteers in time for Oct. 21. As of Wednesday, they already had their first 50 signed up, and Collins voiced hope that another 50 would step up by the end of the day.
Those volunteers will have plenty of work ahead of them. Special Olympics New York has who it needs to run competitions. Volunteers will be asked to work in areas like registration, keeping score during games, transporting athletes between stations and delivering lunches to busy teams. Every category of volunteer comes with its own orientation.
The Fall Games were originally announced to come to Glens Falls starting in 2020, only to be completely shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now two years into a victorious return, the games are happy to call the city home – and even with 1,300 athletes coming to town, Collins says his community is ready.
The city is always having downtown events, including the Adirondack Balloon Festival. What I would like is to have so many people coming to the opening ceremonies that there isn’t a place to park in all of Glens Falls, even into the neighborhoods. That would be a great problem to have.”