If you're looking to shake off the blues from this never-ending winter, there's no better way than to visit the Bitterroot Winter Games at Lost Trail next week.

That's because you can tap into the enthusiasm, love, and pure joy of watching the Special Olympics athletes, as they make the excited return to the slopes at Lost Trail Powder Mountain for the first time since COVID.

And just like over years past, Games organizers are putting out the call for volunteers to help with the fun.

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"We can use volunteers up at the mountain Tuesday, March 7th, and Wednesday, March 8th, as well as I could use some help with our banquet," explains volunteer coordinator Carla Christofferson. "We hold our banquet at the Bitterroot River Inn on the night of March 7th and I still have room for some servers that would be able to come and help. Set the food out and stuff like that, so if anybody doesn't want to drive up to Lost Trail Powder Mountain, I could sure use them down here at the Bitterroot Inn."

Volunteering at the Winter Games means everything from helping the athletes prepare for the events, serving snacks, keeping everyone on schedule for events, or just standing at the finish line, cheering and ringing the traditional cowbells.

"There are lots of ways they can get involved, Dennis," Christofferson tells me. "First of all, we have people putting snow shoes and skis on some of our athletes and then we have people doing timing and lining people up. And then, you're right. I have a tote full of cowbells and I try to hand a lot of the volunteer cowbells, and then they can just urge the athletes on and they really like those." A lot of smiles from athletes when they hear those cowbells ringing." 

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

The last games for athletes from all over West Central Montana were held in late January 2020, just weeks before the pandemic put the games on hold for the next three years. And Carla says everyone is excited.

"We are really looking forward to this because it has been a while since we've done it. And we really like seeing the smiles on all these athletes and not being able to hold it has been really hard on everybody. Hard on the athletes," Christofferson says, showing her own excitement. "So this is going to be a big deal this year and I think you're going to see a lot more smiles and happy people."

An especially big deal, because this year marks the 40th anniversary of the games and the long association with the owners of Lost Trail Powder Mountain.

And if you can't volunteer there are still ways to help. You can like the Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics on Facebook. And you can also send donations to "Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics", P.O. Box 1344 in Florence. All those funds go directly to helping the athletes.

If you'd like to volunteer, or have questions, call Carla Christofferson at 406-363-3028.

Splash! Photos from the 2023 Polar Plunge in Missoula

It was a beautiful day for a dip and to support Special Olympics of Montana!

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