Thursday, November 28, 2013

Area M Gives Back to Hundreds of Veterans

Pictured from left: Zach Hicks, Jan Holt, Melissa Holt, John Strunk, Stephen Dower, Matt Himmelreich, Ken Orth, David Price and Debbie Himmelreich.

On Veteran's Day members of the Special Olympics PA - Area M Athlete Leadership Team helped serve breakfast to our Nation's Heroes at Applebee's. It was a great morning! Three hundred Veterans were treated to a free breakfast courtesy of Applebee's. Our Athletes had the opportunity to interact and give thanks to the Veterans while helping to clear tables so that no one had to wait for their breakfast. Area M’s Athlete Leadership Team has participated in this wonderful event for multiple years and have already been asked to return next year. In fact, at the end of the event they were told where the employment applications were! Those athletes that attended were thankful to have this opportunity to say “Thank You” to our Veterans and to give back to a community that gives so much to them!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Road to Breaking Down Barriers: Project UNIFY, Athlete Leadership and Beyond

By Jordan Schubert, Special Olympics PA Athlete Leadership Coordinator

Special Olympics was started over 45 years ago when so many people, including founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, did not know what to expect. Over the past 45 years, Special Olympics has grown larger than anyone could have imagined.

The greatest stories are always those in which no one knows what to expect in the beginning. That is what I have to say in regards to all my Special Olympics experiences over the past 10 years.  After experiencing a lot of success as an athlete and a youth leader at my school with Special Olympics Illinois, I moved to Pennsylvania not knowing what the future would hold.  However, as I said earlier, not knowing what to expect is what makes the SO experience.  

In the fall of 2011, I joined the National Youth Activation Committee (YAC) for Project UNIFY.  Not only did this allow me to work with youth leaders from across the country in promoting Inclusive Youth Leadership, Whole School Engagement, and Unified Sports, more importantly, it got me connected with people from Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA).  After taking over a year and a half off from competing, I returned to competition for the sport I love most, basketball.  I got to see how vastly different competition is between IL and PA.  Combining my love of sports, and my work that I have done with Project UNIFY on the National YAC and my communications internship at SOI this past summer motivated me to want to do more for SOPA beyond the playing field.  In October of 2013, I was hired as PA's new Athlete Leadership Program (ALP) Coordinator, working in the Eastern Office.

While I had heard a lot about PA's ALPs program, like when I first got involved with Project UNIFY, I didn't know exactly what I was getting into. My first week on the job, I got to learn a lot about ALPs and what my position is all about.  My second week on the job led me even further to what ALPs is all about, not just for PA, but for all of North America.  The first ever Special Olympics North America ALPs Summit was held in Philadelphia.  At this conference, we discussed in depth all the major aspects of ALPs such as ALPs University courses, having athletes work at a program office (which is what I'm doing right now), having athletes on the Board, and how ALPs ties into Project UNIFY.  My main task at the conference was using my experience in both ALPs and Project UNIFY and what they can do for each other.  For those who don't know much about Project UNIFY, it's a sports and education program that Special Olympics started in 2008 to create inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities both socially and athletically.

As I am finishing up my final year on the National YAC, one of the things I want to go into is athlete mentorship, and not only mentor younger athletes, but Unified Partners as well. That way, students can learn what leadership is all about at a young age and prepare them for joining a YAC in their state, or the National YAC.  After an athlete transitions off of their YAC, they can then take the leadership skills that they learned and apply them in training at ALPs University by taking courses on becoming a Global Messenger, coach, official, governance, etc.  From there, they can work to pursue leadership opportunities within their local program.  Not only did I share those ideas with all the attendees at the conference, I got to share it in front of a panel of special guests that included a representative from Bank of America (a corporate partner of Special Olympics), Philadelphia Councilman Dennis O'Brien, Commissioner of Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Service Dr. Arthur Evans, and the Chairman of Special Olympics International Dr. Timothy Shriver.  

After hearing a lot of positive feedback from the panel on my presentation, as well as those of the other attendees, I then headed off to Villanova to experience my first PA Fall Festival.  I was really impressed from what I saw.  Not just all the athletes competing, but meeting athletes who are on the SOPA Board of Directors, and seeing all the hard work put into Villanova’s planning and running of the games.  After checking out the competition, I got to attend my first Athlete Input Council, led by athletes Mike Stephens and Melissa Woerner.  My job was to take notes from all of the feedback athletes gave.  I was impressed with many of the athletes giving positive feedback. Of course, there's always room for improvement and the athletes did a great job sharing what needed to be improved.  Even though I didn't compete at Fall Festival, there were some things that were pointed out that I felt could be improved at other state competitions I have competed in.  

Jackie Robinson is one of my greatest inspirations, not just for breaking down the color barrier in baseball, but also taking an active part in the Civil Rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders.  From my experience at the ALPs Summit, my first Athlete Input Council, and other past experiences that I have had, as an athlete leader, my goal is not only to break down barriers in competition, but also break down barriers to allow athletes to be victorious outside of Special Olympics. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Special Olympics PA Volunteer Receives 2013 Kiwanis Youth Advocacy Award

SOPA-Northumberland Snyder volunteer, Arden Miller, receives the 2013 Kiwanis Youth Advocacy Award from Selinsgrove Kiwanis President Joe Hughes.

The Selinsgrove Kiwanis Youth Advocacy Award is given annually to a person who has worked to benefit area children.  Arden Miller was recently presented the 2013 award in recognition of her 14 years as a troop leader with the Hemlock Girl Scout Council.  She was also recognized for serving over 10 years as both a management team member and head coach for the aquatics program for Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Northumberland Snyder.
During the brief ceremony, Arden Miller’s daughter and Special Olympics PA (SOPA) athlete, Amanda Swazey, gave a presentation on Special Olympics detailing its operations.  She also focused on the need for people to do fundraising for SOPA games and to volunteer as coaches and mentors to the athletes.
The Kiwanis Youth Advocacy Award was first presented to Dick Norman of Selinsgrove in 2007.  At that time the award was called the Dick Norman Youth Advocacy in honor or Mr. Norman’s years of service to the youth of Selinsgrove.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bocce and EKS Day in Armstrong/Indiana!

A combination Bocce tournament and Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) Day picnic made for a wonderful experience for many athletes in Armstrong/Indiana.  This program celebrates EKS day every year and the party keeps getting bigger and better!  Armstrong/Indiana needs some volunteer help right now, if you know of anyone who lives in the area and who would love to work with some terrific athletes, please have them contact Mary Jane Ramer at or visit Special Olympics PA’s website ) and fill out a volunteer inquiry form.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Montgomery County’s New Limerick Bowling Program

Help Special Olympics PA – Montgomery County kick-off their new Limerick Bowling Program on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 11 a.m.  Limerick Bowl is located at 653 W Ridge Pike, Limerick, PA.
To date, the newly created program has 41 athletes, 14 coaches and 12 volunteers. 

The program is very excited and looking forward to a great fall session.  Join them if you can!
For more information about our Montgomery County program, visit

Event Results: Check Out the Awesome News Piece by The Mercury about their first bowling event!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Farm Kings and GAC Help Special Olympics…and you can too! Tune-in Tonight (8/15/13)!

In tonight’s episode of Farm Kings on the Great American Country network, Mom Lisa King, decides to hold an event for young girls with special needs. Freedom Farms, Special Olympics Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania contestants of Miss America team up to host an event at the King’s home market.

Here’s how you can help: Check in to Farm Kings on to “Collect the Kings” and unlock this week’s sticker, Ben King.

When you check in tonight (Thursday, August 15th) between 8 p.m.-1 a.m. ET, you’ll also get a bonus Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) sticker. For each Ben King/SOPA sticker combo unlocked, GAC will donate $1 to Special Olympics PA (up to $5,000)!

The King family, owns Freedom Farms, located in Butler PA. Ben King, the youngest member of the King family, has Down Syndrome - he will turn 13 years old on August 24th.

Please tune-in tonight and unlock the combo Ben/SOPA stickers! You can check in to the get glue sticker via the Farm Kings page at: or through the get glue widget at

Friday, July 26, 2013

Special Olympics PA - Adams County Golf Invitational

The Adams County program will be holding its annual Golf Invitational on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at South Hills Golf Club in Hanover, PA.
Registration will be open from 9:30am-10:15am with Opening Ceremonies beginning at 10:15am. Participants will be shuttled to the golf course around 12:30pm for a 1pm shot gun start.
Entries will be accepted until August 16th, unless positions are filled sooner.  Registrations will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.
For more information, or to register for the Golf Invitational, please e-mail Deb Carpenter at  or Lynn Weaver at

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Freedom Farms’ Born Beautiful Pageant

A local farm in Butler, PA stars on a cable television show called “Farm Kings.”  As the stars of a docu-reality series on The Great American Country (GACtv) Network, the Farm Kings hope to bring an awareness to the country about food, family and hard work.  However, episodes also include stories about the youngest son named Ben who has Down Syndrome.  Each year the farm and show have featured an event to benefit Special Olympics – Butler County.  This year, they held a Born Beautiful Pageant that included Butler athletes and Beauty Competition winners from across the state, including Miss Pennsylvania.  This unique fundraising event was a great opportunity for our athletes to show their true beauty and spread the word about Special Olympics.  The show aired on the GACtv in select communities.  A wonderful time was had bad all!



Monday, July 15, 2013

"Burrow Thunder" Benefits DuBois/Jefferson County Program

The Punxsutawney Eagle Riders No.1231 motorcycle club held its annual "Burrow Thunder" on Saturday July 6, 2013 to benefit the Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s (SOPA) DuBois/Jefferson County program.

The event, held in conjunction with the 2013 Punxsutawney Groundhog Festival, took place at the Punxsy Eagles parking lot where a bike show was held.  Nearly 140 event riders traveled 135 miles, making four stops along the way.  There was also a silent auction, refreshments and a dance featuring the band Against the Grain.

In the weeks to follow, Eagle Rider Club President Denny Knox presented SOPA local program manager Stacey Truman with a check for $15,000. Former SOPA Board member, Jim Burton, was present for the check presentation and has been instrumental in the planning and promotion of “Burrow Thunder.” Eagle Riders’ goal for next year is to include more clubs in Western PA, which will benefit more Special Olympics programs in the region.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wawa Supports Special Olympics PA!

Executives from Wawa, Inc. participated in a Unified Bocce exhibition on June 20th at Wawa University with athletes and coaches from SOPA’s Delaware County program. The exhibition was an opportunity for Special Olympics PA athletes to engage and connect with leadership from Wawa about the impact of the movement and the power of their generosity.
In addition, as part of the “Support the Home Team” campaign, Wawa, Inc. is supporting Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) this summer and extending into 2014 by funding the participation of Pennsylvania athletes at the Special Olympics National Games in New Jersey next June. SOPA will be one of the beneficiaries of a Wawa Coin Canister Campaign which began on July 7th and will run for 11 weeks. Also, a Counter Top Display Campaign will start on July 23rd and run for two weeks. All of this is merely a prelude to similar campaigns that will happen in early 2014 - all with the goal of underwriting the cost of National Games participation for all Team PA athletes. SOPA is scheduled to send more than 230 athletes to National Games, a record-sized delegation for the state. So please visit a Wawa near you frequently this summer and “Support the Home Team!”

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Beautiful Day to Compete!

It was a beautiful day for the 34th Annual DuBois/Jefferson County Special Olympics Day on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.  Athletes, coaches and volunteers from seven area schools and centers participated in track and field events and enjoyed other activities throughout the day.    In addition to great competition, the event honored DuBois Area High School Life Skills teacher, Frank Hetrick, who served as Master of Ceremonies for more than 30 years of service to Special Olympics.  Mr. Hetrick will be retiring from the school district.  The DuBois/Jefferson program also sported its new logo on uniforms for this event.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

SOPA and Philadelphia School District Partner for Unified Sports

Unified Soccer Championship Filmed by PSTV, the Public Educational Channel for the School District of Philadelphia

On Friday, May 31, 2013, Special Olympics Pennsylvania's Philadelphia program partnered with the School District of Philadelphia for an inaugural Unified Soccer Championship held at Frankford Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia. Opening Ceremonies were hosted by Veteran Philadelphia Sports Broadcaster Don Tollefson.

The Championship featured teams from 10 Philadelphia high schools from across the city including: Abraham Lincoln, Edward Bok, Frankford, George Washington, High School of the Future, Northeast, Samuel Fels, Thomas Edison, Boy's Latin and University City High School. Approximately 100 athletes culminated months of preparation for these Unified Games and displayed the "best of the best" during the competition.

The United States Department of Education (DOE) released new guidance to schools and school systems throughout the nation that receive federal aid about the requirements of providing quality sports opportunities for students with disabilities on January 25, 2013. Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that puts athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. This first ever rostered Unified Soccer elective course, developed in partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and Special Olympics Pennsylvania, includes curriculum with youth leadership components, anti-bullying elements and soccer training and competition.  The course provides greater access to sports for all students, with and without disabilities. 

Attending the event were special guests from Special Olympics International; Pennsylvania elected and appointed officials; City Council members; dignitaries including Dr. William R. Hite Jr., Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia and Pedro A. Ramos, Esq., Chairman of the School Reform Commission; and administrators and staff from both the Philadelphia School District and Special Olympics Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dan Kolb from Chester County Wins Sheetz Family Award of Excellence

Athlete Dan Kolb from Chester County is presented the Sheetz Award during the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games closing ceremony by Ashley Sheetz. Photo: Abby Drey-Centre Daily Times

The Sheetz Family Award of Excellence recognizes the athlete whose determination and effort can only be understood by the power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles and inspire greatness. The award distinguishes the athlete who may not win, but whose courage, sportsmanship, effort and determination is award winning.
Our 2013 winner is Dan Kolb from Chester County, a 52 year old athlete who has been participating in Special Olympics since its beginning.  He is helpful, kind, considerate, serves as a mentor, and is an outstanding member of his program’s tennis team. 
He plans for the Summer Games throughout the year by not only preparing to play physically, but also by preparing to help other athletes in his sport by purchasing or acquiring rackets and other items for equipment maintenance and improvement.
When his local program arrives at Penn State, Dan steps up and kicks things into high gear.   This “Tennis Pro” helps his fellow teammates and competitors by offering his services and tips for improving their game.  He encourages every player to do their very best and encourages the youngest members of the sport.  Dan also is on the “look out” for players who need upgrades in equipment and will provide new or used rackets to those who need upgrades.  He works at a racket club and when members get new equipment, he encourages them to donate to our sport. 
Anxious to contribute to the sport and help improve the Special Olympics experience for his fellow athletes, Dan currently serves as an athlete on the sports management team, The Athlete Input Council, and was most recently selected to serve as a regional representative for athletes on the state level. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cambria County Basket Party Raises Nearly $10,000

Special Olympics PA – Cambria County’s recent Basket Party was a huge success, raising nearly $10,000 this year.   The Program began its event planning by deciding upon a menu for the basket party.  Through the years it has served a variety of sandwiches such as barbeque beef, Sloppy Joes, hot dogs, and a selection of salads and desserts.  The salads and desserts are donated by the coaches and parents. 
The committee splits up a list of businesses in the community to contact for donations.  Each committee person is responsible for contacting the businesses on their list at least 30 to 45 days prior to the event to help determine the number of large prizes it will have.
Cambria County’s committee consists of 10 to 12 coaches and parents.  They start making baskets several months prior to the main event with a goal of creating 200 baskets and soliciting several large prizes (all of which are donated by the community), wreaths containing gift cards from local businesses, door prizes, and a money and lottery tree. 
Lists are created at different sporting events for parents and coaches to volunteer to make a basket or prepare a salad or desert for the event.  The Cambria Program also enlists the help of its parents and coaches in setting up the hall and transporting the baskets the day of the event.  Their athletes assist the in delivering the baskets to the winners, while a volunteer verifies the winning ticket.
Cambria County would be happy to assist any county interested in holding a basket party to get started.  It is a lot of work, but making nearly $10,000 in one afternoon is the reward. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Volunteer of the Month - June 2013

Congratulations are extended to John Bressler from our Columbia/Montour Counties program who received Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Volunteer of the Month Award this month (June 2013). The award is presented to an individual who has exhibited exceptional commitment to Special Olympics, demonstrated appreciable time and effort, and has made an outstanding contribution to his/her program.

John is currently the head tennis and bocce coach. He has been a Head of Delegation (HOD), head coach, assistant coach, and/or volunteer at most local, sectional, and state events for the past ten years. He not only coaches tennis and bocce, but also can be seen at soccer, bowling, floor hockey, basketball skills, aquatics and athletics. John also takes responsibility for making sure that all of the training sites have the appropriate equipment. He takes care of the equipment and supervises the setting up and tearing down of the training sites for all of the sports. At each site, he can be found taking charge of the paperwork that includes attendance and score/time sheets. His truck has become home to sports equipment and all of the necessary sports paperwork. John’s job often requires him to put in overtime and work twelve-hour shifts. On the days when there are evening training sessions, he works 3:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. so that he can attend the sessions which often fall on consecutive days.

John has been treasurer for close to ten years. During that time, he has organized the finances and guided the management team towards being continually accountable for their spending and the requesting of funds. During fundraising events, he has the necessary funds ready for making change and requires at least one other management team member or volunteer to be present when tallying up the profits. At meetings, if anyone has a question about a bill or deposit, John knows exactly how much and when it was paid. He keeps a monthly record of what is spent and deposited and handles all of the equipment for the county.

John has been on the Bocce Bash committee since its inception nine years ago. At committee meetings, he is a positive influence for the Bloomsburg University students, often providing financial input and information from the previous invitational so that the students know their budget goals. Making sure he is available to move the bocce courts, rugs and other necessary equipment is a priority for John the week of Bocce Bash. He directs the students for moving the equipment and setting the courts up each year for the tournament.

John is a bocce clinician and official for the state. This has required him to travel to other areas and train both coaches and officials. Because of these roles, there are times when he also sets up tournament sites for sectional and state events. He would then help coordinate and run the venue if needed. Vacation days for John are often determined by when Special Olympics competitions are scheduled. He will schedule days off in advance to ensure that he is not working for the competition, whether it is local, sectional, state or an invitational.

Columbia Montour continually receives high marks on its treasurer reports and financial statements. John has recruited family members to help with not only training events, but also fundraising opportunities and athlete recruitment. He does not hesitate to ask parents and spectators to help if timers or scorekeepers are needed for training.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What makes Special Olympics Pennsylvania Remarkable?

My name is Jessie Salness and I am the newly appointed Lebanon County Athlete Representative, as well as a Track and Field and Powerlifting athlete.  I joined the Lebanon County division of Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) in the spring of 2012, and I wanted to tell you a few things that I think are remarkable about SOPA.
I love that we come together to practice and compete as a team, even when we are involved in sports that are often viewed as more individual or solitary sports.  It is wonderful that we support and cheer each other on to do the best that we can, and we often go way beyond what we ever thought was possible!  I know that I have lifted more weight and run faster than ever before, and that hearing the cheers of my fellow athletes helps push me to succeed!
Week after week we show up for practice, try our best, and encourage our fellow athletes, even when we may be frustrated or find things difficult.  There are easier things we could be doing that don't take as much effort, but our effort and perseverance pays off, especially when we compete in our various sporting events!
I often recall our Special Olympics Athlete Oath when competing, and want to remind my fellow athletes:
"Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
I am proud to be a Special Olympics athlete, and especially proud to be the Lebanon County Athlete Representative.

Jessie Salness                                                                        
Special Olympics PA - Lebanon County
Athlete Representative

Friday, May 17, 2013

TD Bank is inviting Pennsylvanians to "Be a fan" of Special Olympics, May 13 - June 30!

As part of a national partnership, TD Bank is asking their customers to help them raise funds for Special Olympics through a variety of unique and fun ways. This is the 5th year for this partnership which has seen more than $1 million raised nationwide each year, including more than $400,000 raised for Special Olympics PA the past four years.

Here are just a few ways you can team up with TD Bank to support Pennsylvania’s Special Olympics athletes and reach the new $1.2 million goal:
  • For a $5 donation, you can sport a cool "Be a fan" bracelet - just pick one up at any TD Bank location!
  • Is all that loose change slowing you down? Take it to a TD Bank Penny Arcade coin counting machine, have it converted to bills and choose to donate a portion (or maybe all?) of your conversion to Special Olympics PA.
  • Make an in-store donation next time you're in.
  • Take part in one of their special in-store, fun events that will benefit Special Olympics. See your participating local branches for details and say hello to our athletes who will be attending many of these events, so you'll get to meet a hometown hero!
So find your nearest TD Bank at, stop by, and "Be a fan" of Special Olympics!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Erie County Basketball Invitational Tournament

The Erie County program, under the guidance of Mary Zubetz, once again held a very successful 3v3 and 5v5 basketball invitational tournament.  On April 13th, over 250 athletes, coaches and volunteers met at Girard High School for a day of fierce round ball competition.  The Erie County teams were challenged by the Warren County teams and a terrific time was had by all.  Lunch was provided and the coveted Gus Macker Awards presented.  If you live in the Northwest corner of Pennsylvania, why not consider attending this tournament next year?
Many thanks to Mary, and the entire Erie County team, and Girard High School for the generous use of its facility.

39th Annual Crawford County Special Olympics Track and Field Meet

Special Olympics Pennsylvania in Crawford County held its 39th annual Track and Field meet on May 8th at the Crawford County Fairgrounds.  Over 350 athletes participated in the event and Heather Clancy Young, CEO of the Meadville Area Federal Credit Union, served as emcee. The first event of the day was the parade of athletes.  Classrooms and groups lined up and marched to the front of the grandstand.  Joyce Seeley of Maplewood School led the group in the National Anthem.  

Meadville Area Senior High (MASH) students provided music while each of the schools and agencies marched in for Opening Ceremonies.  Crawford County athletes Kyle Miller and Cody Hubert carried the torch and lit the Olympic cauldron; while, Bill Shaulis led the group in the Athlete Oath – “Let me win but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt.”

After opening ceremonies, each participant began their first competition event and could also participate in several fun activities like the Frisbee or bean bag throw, or participate in Olympic Village where carnival style games were set up and run by Thurston House staff, MASH students and volunteers.  The event would not have run so smoothly without support from local  tool and die shops, schools, agencies and businesses that came out to help make the day special.  AVI Food Systems Inc., Nutrition Inc, and Mc Donald's provided lunch items for the 350 athletes.    

This is the second year that Crawford County presented the Danny Zirkle Spirit Award.   Danny participated in many local, sectional and state competitions.  In 2008, he was awarded a special trophy for his sportsmanship at Fall Festival, which led to his induction into the Special Olympics PA Hall of Fame later that year.  Danny exemplified the “spirit” of Special Olympics. The Spirit Award winner for 2013 is Tanner Holabaugh, a school aged athlete who helps out at the practices and encourages others to do their very best. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

P&GbrandSAVER® May 12 – June 30, 2013

It’s time again to kick off this year’s P&GbrandSAVER® and Thank you, Mom program! Keep an eye out for your P&GbrandSAVER® coupon books in your local newspaper on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 2013.  
This promotion is based on coupon redemption: Special Olympics will receive 2 cents for every coupon used and you must present the coupon upon checkout. There is no limit to the donation from P&G, so the more coupons redeemed, the higher the gift.  And don’t forget the savings for you -- the P&GbrandSAVER® coupon book includes over$48 in savings! The coupons expire June 30, 2013, so don’t wait too long to start clipping and saving! To find a local newspaper carrying the P&GbrandSAVER® coupon book please click here

Friday, April 26, 2013

Special Olympics Pennsylvania Athletes Compete in 2013 Penn Relays

On Friday, April 26, 2013, Special Olympics athletes competed in their own division in two races — the 4×100-meter relay and the 100-meter dash— during the 2013 Penn Relays, the oldest and largest track and field competition in the US hosted annually by the University of Pennsylvania.  In total, approximately 20 athletes from all over the East Coast participated.
Participating Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes included: Adam Mucklow (Bucks County), Houston McDaniel (Montgomery County), Bernie Thompson (Bucks County), and Alex Brauman (Montgomery County).         
Congratulations to Bucks County athlete Adam Mucklow who came in first in the 100M event at the Penn Relays.  See the race time below:
Penn Relay Results - 100M Run
Adam Mucklow                 Bucks Co.                          00:14.41
Zach Goodrich                   Wake Co., NC                   00:14.81
Joshua Thomas                 Franklin Co., NC                00:14.96
Houston McDaniel           Montgomery Co.              00:15.03  
Mychael Parker                Franklin Co., NC                00:15.10
Daniel Jenkins                   Baltimore Co., MD           00:15.15
Bernie Thompson             Bucks Co.                           00:15.18
Alex Brauman                    Montgomery Co.             00:15.41

Click here to read The Daily Pennsylvanian article about our Special Olympics athletes.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Greg Focht, an athlete from Centre County, Finishes at the Fifty!

Greg Focht runs with his team during the Beaver Stadium Run

Greg Focht, a 47 year old Special Olympics PA – Centre County athlete, took part in his first 5K this weekend during the 2013 Beaver Stadium Run.  He has never run before in his life, but was proud to take part in the event when his first pair of running shoes were sponsored by Rapid Transit Shoes.
Motivated to begin running after he saw his fellow athletes participate in the 2012 Special Olympics PA Summer Games Torch Run at Penn State University, Greg trained vigorously for the Beaver Stadium Run with Kathie Mayo, a Centre County program volunteer.  Within months of training, Greg reduced his 3-mile time by 17 minutes.
In addition to recently completing his journey to “finish at the fifty” on Sunday, Greg will be inducted into the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in May where many of his other Special Olympics accomplishments will be recognized.
Greg continues to train today and is becoming an icon around the community.  Perhaps we will see him participate in the 2013 Summer Games Torch Run?  Only time will tell.
An estimated 3,700 runners and walkers of all ages and abilities took part in the Fourth Annual Beaver Stadium 5K /1 Mile Family Fun Walk at Penn State University on Sunday, April 21, 2013 raising more than $360,000!  Thanks are extended to Greg for his involvement!
View the below video of Greg Participating in the Run! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lebanon Valley College Community Dutchmen Win Award for Special Olympics Support

Pictured: Bradley Krisantis, Lebanon County Program Manager Joan Sechrist, Kelly Fahenstock, and Ines Antensteiner

Lebanon Valley College (LVC) showcased its students during Inquiry 2013, a celebration of the scholarly, scientific, and creative achievements of the student body, from April 14 – 18. This year the symposium included a reception hosted by President Lewis Evitts Thayne, Ph.D., for College trustees and various guests on campus for Thayne's inauguration as the 18th president of Lebanon Valley College. During the symposium, Thayne presented the President's Award for Community Service to LVC’s Community Dutchmen.

The LVC Community Dutchmen is a student service group that was started by two young men in 2007, Chris Bauer and Nick Zuloph.  The group began as an exclusive volunteer organization for the Special Olympics PA - Lebanon County program that provided volunteers for its sports trainings.
Now, the Community Dutchmen provide additional diverse services that involve more than just trainings.  The group also helps with athlete dances, the polar plunge, sports clinics, annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day park clean-up, and will be serving as hosts for Lebanon County’s Athlete Leadership Program meetings and activities in the fall.
The Presidential Service Award has been designed to acknowledge a student organization "which has contributed to life in Central Pennsylvania through community service.”  We congratulate the Community Dutchmen for receiving this honor!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I am visiting Egypt as part of a US Sports United delegation to hold a clinic on swimming skills for Special Olympics Egypt coaches. I am travelling with a coach from Pennsylvania and a coach and athlete from Virginia. This coach’s clinic is 5 days long with one group of 50 coaches coming for two days, another group of 50 coaches for two days, and both groups coming together on the last day.

I have been in the pool helping to demonstrate the strokes and drills. The pool is outdoors, but very sunny and hot. We have very beginner swimmers, but I am showing them not to be afraid. It's not all work -- I had a chance to visit the pyramids, and even go inside one of them (it was very hot inside). I also rode a camel and visited a very big mall. We had dinner at the home of Mr. Ayman Wahab, who is in charge of Special Olympics in the Middle East/North Africa region. He had a beautiful house and it had its own pool.

Egypt is different with a lot of old buildings and crazy traffic with no lanes. It looks like people make up their own traffic rules, but there are not many accidents. The people are very friendly but the language is different so we have a translator. This trip has been a great experience.

Pictured: Farag El Sayad - our tour guide, Alice Moat, Gail Morning, Kester Edwards - Special Olympics athlete and staff member, Dennis Crean - Special Olympics coach, Bill Donohue - Gail's step-dad.

Gail helping swimmers in Egypt.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Second Training Update on Special Olympics Pennsylvania Athlete Greg Focht

He has never run in his life but is currently dedicated to running the Beaver Stadium Run/Walk on Sunday April 21 of Blue & White Weekend at Penn State.

Please support Greg & other athletes by participating in the Beaver Stadium 5k Run/Walk, donating, or volunteering for the event in State College, PA.

To sign up please visit:

To sponsor Greg:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An Athlete’s Journey to “Finish at the Fifty”

A Penn State Blue-White Weekend tradition continues on Sunday, April 21, 2013 when runners and walkers of all ages and abilities take part in the 4th Annual Special Olympics PA Beaver Stadium 5K Run/Family Fun Walk at Penn State University. Presented by Sheetz, Inc., the Run will begin on Porter Road (at the corner of Curtin Road), move through Penn State’s scenic campus, and conclude with runners racing through the Beaver Stadium Tunnel onto the Nittany Lions’ home turf to “finish at the fifty.”  Visit for more information.

Special Olympics PA – Centre County athlete Greg Focht, who has never run before in his life, is dedicated to participating in the 5k on April 21st.  View two videos below that follow Greg’s journey toward the big day. The first video is of Greg getting his first pair of running shoes by Rapid Transit and highlights information about the Run. The second video is a training update after three weeks.

The third upcoming video will be another training update after 6 weeks; and the last one will be filmed during the run.
Recent Training Update
First Training Video