ITHACA, NY – Led by a few dedicated volunteers and in collaboration with Cornell and Ithaca College, the Ithaca area is making a strong bid to be the host for the New York State Special Olympics Fall Games in 2017 and 2018.

Karli Buday, who works with local Special Olympics athletes locally, has been heading up the effort to bring to the event to Ithaca and plans to submit a final “bid packet” to the state Special Olympics organization for review.

“There’s a process of many different factors, and my job was just locating and identifying the different venues, the different key players, seeing if there’s an interest and submitting all of the logistical paperwork,” Buday said.

Once the bid packet is finalized, the state organization will review it to ensure the logistics work out. While it’s not a sure thing, Buday is confident that the Ithaca area has a very strong bid. The games are hosted in the same city for two years, with the tentative dates for Ithaca being Oct. 14 2017 and Oct. 13, 2018.

The Special Olympics Fall Games, last hosted in Glens Falls, draw around 1,000 special athletes and coaches, along with many family members and other spectators.

Several local organizations, including Ithaca College and Cornell, are already onboard and offering their facilities for the event. On Monday, the city’s Board of Public Works will be discussing the use of Stewart Park for the cycling part of the event. Other events are being hosted Lansing, Freeville and Horseheads.

The state Special Olympics has already been to the area for a site visit of the various facilities, and Buday said the visit went well.

Another reason for the confidence is that the area has recently shown strong support for the Special Olympics with events like the Torch Run, Special Olympics Regional Golf Tournament and the Polar Bear Plunge, which this year exceeded it’s $40,000 fundraising goal by more than $20,000.

Buday says that the strong community support is what initially drew attention to the possibility of hosting the games in Ithaca.

The bid packet is due to be sent in by Nov. 9, so expect a decision to made sometime after that.

(Featured photo of the Torch Run by Jolene Almendarez / The Ithaca Voice.)

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.