Dangerous wind chills have local Special Olympics chapter changing plans for winter games

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Frigid cold and even colder wind chills have Special Olympics Kansas changing plans for dozens of young athletes.

The organization doesn't want to take chances with with winter impacting its Winter Games.

The opening ceremonies for the games were supposed to happen Wednesday evening. But once organizers heard about the unbelievably cold forecast, they decided that wasn't happening.

Dozens of Special Olympics athletes have their eyes on Snow Creek in Weston, Missouri, this week. IT's the sight of the 30th Heartland Winter Games.

"(It's) a Special Olympics skiing, snowshoeing cross country and ice skating event," said Tim Rehder with Special Olympics Kansas.

But Mother Nature isn't playing along.

Because of the arctic blast of cold predicted for Kansas City, Wednesday's opening ceremonies have been rescheduled for Thursday morning.

"With it being as brutally cold as it's forecasted, it makes no sense to have anyone out there," Rehder said. "Volunteers would be miserable. Athletes would be miserable. Strictly from a safety standpoint, we are shortening the event."

Game organizers said they do have to cancel a few clinics and qualifying events, but the majority of the games will go on.

"We want everyone to be as warm as possible," Rehder said. "We understand that winter events are going to be cold. That just comes with the territory, but there's a point where safety has to be your first priority."

Organizers say the temperatures for Thursday and Friday are expected to be reasonable for a winter event like this. They just want to make sure everyone has fun while staying as safe as possible.

Things don't really get much warmer for Special Olympics Kansas after the winter games. They'll hold their Polar Plunge at Shawnee Mission Park on Feb. 16.

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