Columbia Sportswear is to be named as an official apparel sponsor to the American Special Olympics athletes through the donation of warm outdoor gear.

The company will donate 600 parkas and pants to the Special Olympics Team USA. The Cloud Chaser Parka will feature an exclusive design created for the Special Olympics athletes. In addition to the new parkas, athletes will wear Columbia's Crystal Ridge pants. Columbia is also offering the rest of its apparel, including fleece, hats and gloves, to Special Olympics for 10 per cent lower than the wholesale cost.

This is the second time that Columbia has sponsored the American Special Olympics team and Gert Boyle, chairwoman of Columbia Sportswear Company, is excited about doing it all again, "Columbia's sponsorship of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 1997 proved to be such a wonderful experience for the company, that we didn't hesitate for a second when asked to participate in the 2001 Games"

"Columbia is proud of our association with these outstanding athletes. We salute their spirit, commitment, and determination during these exciting Games and all throughout the year."

The 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games are being held in Anchorage, Alaska from March 4-11 and will highlight the skills and strengths of more than 1,500 Special Olympics athletes from 70 countries.

About the Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international program which provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental retardation in 26 Olympic-type sports in over 160 countries around the world. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics inspires greatness in over a million athletes who benefit from their participation with this worldwide movement. The benefits of Special Olympics reach beyond the athletes who participate. The coaches, volunteers, families and donors experience joy from the opportunities that the Special Olympics movement brings to their lives.

For more information on the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games and Special Olympics Team USA, visit the World Winter Games Website at www.2001worldgames.org