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Hundreds gather for Special Olympics Alaska ribbon-cutting ceremony

By Shannon Ballard 9:43 PM May 8, 2014

Thursday was a huge day for Special Olympics Alaska.

The nonprofit’s brand new sports, health and wellness center officially opened its doors in Mountain View. Hundreds were there for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, including politicians such as Gov. Sean Parnell and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan.

Volunteers and coaches said the new facility will make a huge difference for thousands of Alaskan athletes with intellectual disabilities.

There are a 180 Special Olympics programs around the world, but only four have a facility that can compare. The 28,000-square-foot building is designed to help athletes gain more confidence and work toward a healthy lifestyle. It is a place to train, learn and interact year-round.

More than sports, the facility will offer classes on how to deal with issues such as bullies, nutrition and obesity.

The nonprofit says there’s no way this $10 million project would be possible without Alaskans stepping up to the plate.

“It’s breathtaking and it makes you honored to be an Alaskan,” said Jim Balamaci, president of Special Olympics Alaska. “It’s taken all of us to get here and that’s what makes it bigger and better. It’s a gift that we’re going to cherish.”

Special Olympics Alaska has more plans to expand its training center and campus. Within the next couple years there’s talk of building an on-site outdoor facility for winter sports.

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