The worldwide recognition of Idaho potatoes was apparent when participants of the Special Olympics World Winter Games descended upon Boise, ID, in early February.
As the IPC mascot Spuddy Buddy greeted athletes from nearly 100 countries in his official cobalt blue World Games jersey, the universal support for Idaho potatoes was clear.
The athletes and their families visiting the Special Olympics Town at Boise Center immediately recognized Spuddy and embraced the opportunity to meet Idaho's famous spud. As a sponsor of the games, the commission showed its support during the weeklong event by providing nutritious Idaho potato dishes and memorabilia specially branded for the games.
"The Idaho Potato Commission was proud to support the Special Olympics World Winter Games and provide potatoes to fuel the athletes throughout the sporting events," Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of the commission, said in a Feb. 13 press release.
For the games, Spuddy Buddy hung up his red jersey for a new, limited- edition, cobalt blue Special Olympics jersey. More than 6,000 special-edition, plush mini Spuddy Buddies were included in the athletes' welcome bags, and Spuddy himself made daily appearances in the Special Olympics Town. The commission also donated more than 5,800 Idaho potato pins, custom made for the World Winter Games.
The commission ensured that athletes would be energized throughout the week with nutritious Idaho potato dishes. The IPC provided more than 8,400 Idaho potatoes for the Law Enforcement Torch Run reception Feb. 6, the Healthy Athletes reception Feb. 7 and the Family Dinner reception Feb. 13.
To close out the games, Mr. Muir was invited to present medals to floor hockey teams during the final awards presentation Feb. 13.
"It was an honor to be part of this awards ceremony, a moment for which these athletes train so hard. It is humbling to be part of this international event that supports the special talents of these athletes," Mr. Muir said in the press release.