Two Special Olympics Delaware athletes, a pair of Global Youth Activation Summit facilitators and one law enforcement officer are attending the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games. The Games will include 3,300 athletes from 112 countries competing in one of the largest sports events held in the Republic of Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Nordic skier Christi Theron, of Wilmington, and alpine skier Paul Johnston, of Smyrna, are among 152 athletes competing as members of Team USA at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Theron attended the 2009 World Games in Boise, Idaho, while Johnston is attending his first international competition.
Theron said she's looking forward to meeting other athletes from around the world. Johnston is also excited for the experience.
"To be able to embrace the cultural differences will be exciting," Johnston said.
Rachel Ward, of Newark, and Clement Coulston, of Wilmington, are representing the United States as facilitators at the Global Youth Activation Summit held at the Games. Seventy-nine student teams from 35 countries are gathering for the summit to conduct a "Dignity Revolution" that gains the social acceptance of young people with intellectual disabilities.
Ward, a member of the Special Olympics Delaware Youth Activation Committee, competes in swimming, bowling, alpine skiing and basketball. She also earned varsity letters in swimming while attending Newark High School. Coulston, a sophomore at the University of Delaware, is a member of the Special Olympics National Youth Activation Committee.
Delaware State Police Lieutenant Danny Hall, of Smyrna, is one of hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the world participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics. The Final Leg heightens awareness of the Winter Games by running the "Flame of Hope" to every corner of Korea, spreading the message of Special Olympics leading up to the Games. The torch is then run into the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
Hall has volunteered in a variety of roles for Special Olympics Delaware for more than 20 years, beginning when he was a student at the University of Delaware.
"I know from other runners that have participated in the Final Leg that it is a life-changing experience," he said. "I can't wait. Next to my family, I have no greater joy in life than Special Olympics."