Two Northwest suburban athletes are preparing for the trip of a lifetime: the chance to compete in the Special Olympics World Games, opening March 14 in Austria.

Steve McVoy, 37, of Arlington Heights and Lisa Menichino, 47, of Bartlett will be among the 3,000 Special Olympians from 110 countries descending on the Alpine regions of Austria for the eight-day event.

"I'm excited. I've never been to Austria," says Menichino, who is a multisport athlete with Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association, which is based in Crystal Lake.

She will be competing in the 500-meter and 1K cross-country skiing events, as well as a 1K relay event in her first world games, while McVoy will take to the slopes as he competes in the Alpine skiing events.

McVoy is a level 4 downhill skier, who will be making his second appearance at the world games. In 2005, he was chosen to compete in Nagano, Japan, where he won a silver and bronze medal.

He qualified for the 2017 world games after winning a gold medal in Alpine skiing at the 2016 winter state competition in Galena, Illinois.

Both Menichino and McVoy have been training for nearly a year for the world games after being notified of their selection in February, 2016. However, this winter's lack of snowfall proved to be a challenge.

Earlier in the winter, when there was snow, Menichino trained at Wing Park in Elgin, before moving indoors to The Centre in Elgin, where she works out on the elliptical, treadmill and with weights. Over the summer, she trained on roller skis.

McVoy traveled across the country to find snow. He attended an Alpine ski race training camp in Portland, Oregon, where he skied on Mount Hood. The camp was sponsored by the National Sports Center for the Disabled.

He also attended a training camp in Killington, Vermont, for five days, where he trained with his Special Olympics Team USA coaches and other athletes.

Locally, McVoy works with a personal trainer three days a week, as well as cross training through his other sports in Special Olympics, including weightlifting and basketball, to help him further his cardio, muscle strength and endurance.

Both athletes will have large family contingents on hand to watch them compete, including 13 of the extended Menichino family, as well as McVoy's parents, Steve and Pam, his younger brother, Brendan, and more family members coming from across the country.

Special Olympics "has been an ongoing presence in Steve's life since he was a young child," says his mother, Pam. "The organization has enhanced Steve's life in many aspects, including social and athletic development.

"It has allowed him to be part of a community," she adds, "promoting friendships, teamwork, confidence and respect."

The Illinois delegation will gather Saturday, March 11, in Chicago for a send-off celebration and dinner, before flying to Washington, D.C., the next day, where they will meet up with the rest of the USA teams and celebrate with a special event.

The athletes will depart on Monday, March 13, for Austria to begin final preparations before marching in the opening ceremony on Tuesday, March 14.