Weitra first municipality to initiate the "HostTown Program" of the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017
“Heartbeat for the world – initial vibes!” An event can hardly be grander. On the day of the Feast of Corpus Christi the Rotary Club Weitra organized a reception at the beautiful Weitra Castle to celebrate the kickoff of the Host Town Program of the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 that will take place in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau. Weitra was the first municipality to register for this traditional program in the context of the World Winter Games and in March 2017 the town in the Waldviertel region (the north-western part of the Austrian state of Lower Austria) will host the delegation from Monaco. “When we heard about the Special Olympics World Winter Games and the Host Town Program, we immediately decided together with Mayor Raimund Fuchs that we wanted to welcome one of the delegations”, explains Franz Schwingenschlögl, President of the Rotary Club Weitra. Since the Club was the first to register with Host Town Coordinator Ernst Summer, it was clear from the beginning that Weitra Castle was to be the location for the kickoff celebration of the Host Town Program. “With this function we want to make everybody aware of the big event that will take place in Austria next year and we hope that the Monacan athletes and their entourage will enjoy an unforgettable time in our region.”
There even is an evident connection between Weitra and the Principality of Monaco: The owners of Weitra Castle (Fürstenberg family) are related to the Monacan princely family and the two families maintain friendly ties. Ever since Johannes Prince of Fürstenberg, who is a member of the Rotary Club Weitra, has contacted the Monacan princely family regarding the Host Town Program of the upcoming World Winter Games, connections with the Monacan Special Olympics Organization have been intensified and Prince Albert of Monaco himself surprised the guests of the kickoff event with a video message that can be viewed via our YouTube Channel:https://youtu.be/0l-mZ4L4Hek
Until the event in March 2017 a big heart at the foot of the Castle that emulates the logo of the World Winter Games as well as the official ‘Austria 2017’ flag that was hoisted on the castle tower will make sure that the Special Olympics will be present in the town of Weitra.
In his speech Karl Wilfing, a member of the government of Lower Austria, complimented and congratulated the members of the Rotary Club Weitra on their commitment: “It is great that the Games for athletes with an intellectual disability will take place in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau. And it is fantastic that many international delegations will be based all over Austria and thus have the possibility to get to know other parts of our wonderful country.”
Hermann Kröll, President of the Organizations Special Olympics Austria and Austria 2017, expressed his gratitude towards all attending guests and in particular towards the members of the Rotary Club Weitra for their efforts: "The catchphrase ‘initial vibes’ could not be more appropriate. Already we can all feel the drum of the heartbeat that will accompany us true to the Games’ motto. The aim of the Host Town Program is the integration of people with intellectual disabilities because they belong in our middle and must not be pushed to the edges of our society. And this integration must go without saying and not happen out of pity. I am convinced that Weitra and all the other Host Town Communities all over Austria will be excellent hosts and the international athletes will find ideal conditions to prepare for the competitions in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau.“
The musical entertainment during the kickoff event was provided by the town marching band of Weitra, as well as GuGabriel, a singer who grew up and attended musical training in her hometown, and opera singer Christoph Seidl. The event also witnessed a little world premiere when GuGabriel and Seidl performed the song “Adam and Eve” together with Thomas Faulhammer and Edi Mair, two renowned Austrian musicians. This song also epitomizes an aspect of the Special Olympics 2017 since one of the lines in its chorus is: “Don't be afraid anymore“. Fear definitely must not be a feature of the 2017 edition of the World Winter Games; the feelings that are supposed to prevail are fun, excitement and the joint experience of positive emotions.
Following the musical performances Peter Hofbauer, artistic director of theWeitra Castle Festival, and satirist Thomas Strobl entertained the audience with a humorous presentation of beautiful Austria in their double act “Alright sog'n d'Leit".
The pictures shows: Laurenz Maresch (Assistant Governor), Hubert Kainzer (RC Weitra), LR Karl Wilfing, Franz Schwingenschlögl (President Rotary Club Weitra), Hermann Kröll (President SO Österreich and Austria 2017), Special Olympics athlete Gerhard Frühwald, Bgm. Raimund Fuchs and Gerhard Hellmann (Rotary District Governor).
More pictures from the launch event you can find here!