Hundreds gather for Special Olympics celebration

Performers, politicians and athletes from around the state gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Mountain View’s newest community center Thursday afternoon.

20140508-180240.jpgThe Special Olympics Alaska Sports, Health and Wellness Center broke ground a year ago and celebrated its official opening before an enthusiastic crowd. Families, volunteers, law enforcement officers and local business leaders filled the lot on Mountain View Drive.

The event also featured remarks from a handful of politicians — Rep. Bill Stoltze, former Gov. Bill Scheffield, Rep. Geran Tarr, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and Gov. Sean Parnell. Diane Kaplan, president of the Rasmuson Foundation, spoke about the foundation’s role in developing the center.

But it was the performers who stole the show.

20140508-172651.jpgThe Mount Susitna Singers performed several traditional songs and danced to rousing applause. Laura Witham performed the national anthem and the Alaska flag song, and Eklutna Tribal Council President Lee Stephan welcomed the assembled crowd. The audience included athletes from Quinhagak, Ketchikan and beyond.

Speaking to the assembled guests, Sullivan said the sports center is a sign of things to come.

“Mountain View is a community on the rebound,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of people to make that happen.”

The Special Olympics center and recent affordable housing projects were already boosting business in nearby Glenn Square, Sullivan said. Bass Pro Shops is in the process of constructing a 100,000 square foot store; the first in Anchorage. The growth would have a ripple effect throughout the neighborhood, Sullivan said.20140508-180223.jpg

“A little investment in a community can go a long, long way,” he said.




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