Tuesday, December 15, 2015

SOPA Athletes Participate in De11e Donne Girls Camp

Elena Delle Donne, professional basketball player with the WNBA Chicago Sky and 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year, hosted a Girls Basketball Camp for ages 9 – 18 on Sunday, December 13, 2015 at Cardinal O'Hara High School, located in Springfield, PA.  The focus of these camps is to help girls to improve their basketball skills while learning the importance of loving the game!   It also helps to promote the importance of creating opportunities for people without intellectual disabilities to join in the sports experience by playing on a team with athletes with intellectual disabilities.  The inclusive Basketball Camp involved students from Cardinal O'Hara and Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes from Delaware and Chester Counties: Lilly Seagraves, Jane Barnes, Abby Smeltzer, Meghan Greim, and Tamsin Hircock.

 Delle Donne joined the Special Olympics family as the movement’s newest Global Ambassador in support of the organization’s efforts in promoting acceptance, inclusion, respect and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities.  As part of her role as an Ambassador, Elena extends invitations to Special Olympics athletes to join her at her De11e Donne Girls Camp and has worked to promote basketball development within Special Olympics, particularly among girls. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Unified Sports Athlete Receives Jimmy Medal

On Friday, November 27th, three athletes along with their dates attended the 136th Annual Philadelphia Charity Ball.  Special Olympics Pennsylvania has been the beneficiary of the Ball for multiple years, and was again the beneficiary this year.  Philadelphia athletes Ian Capacio and Ally Rutizer attended the Ball along with Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) athlete Brandon Velez-Roa who took IUS partner, Katlyn Geist, as his date.

Brandon Velez-Roa, who is a student at Abraham Lincoln High School, received the Jimmy Medal at the 2015 Philadelphia Charity Ball. The Jimmy Medal identifies and celebrates individuals who make a positive difference in the lives of others.  Though their actions they exemplify the virtues of resiliency, humility, empathy and loyalty.

Brandon participates as an athlete in both Unified Bocce and Soccer with Special Olympics at his school.  “He is a fantastic athlete who loves competing and displays tremendous effort and attitude both on and off the field,” said his coach Michael Turchi.  His peers and teachers describe him as kind, friendly, coachable and a very lovable young man.  Brandon’s outgoing and optimistic demeanor has made him not only a great athlete, but also a wonderful friend and role model for all of the students at Abraham Lincoln High School.

Brandon has also participated with his fellow team and classmates in the “Spread the Word to End the Word” Campaign at his school, which is a Special Olympics initiative that asks people to pledge to stop saying the “R-word” (retard) as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Through the “Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign,” students pledge not to use the “R-word” and instead promote respect and an inclusive climate for all students.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Adams County Team Joins Gettysburg College Student-Athletes for Fit Fest

On October, 25, 2015, approximately 150 Gettysburg College student-athletes welcomed dozens of Special Olympics Pennsylvania -Adams County athletes to The Jaeger Center for Athletics, Recreation, and Fitness for a fun-filled night of exercise and nutrition called "Fit Fest."

All the athletes from both Special Olympics and Gettysburg were divided into groups which rotated between six different stations designed to inform and demonstrate proper skills concerning physical and nutritional activities. The stations included speed and agility, yoga and stretching, lifting, nutrition, Zumba, and heart rate. The overall mood was uplifting and exciting, and athletes from both sides shared stories and laughs as the evening progressed.

The entire night was designed not only to teach the Special Olympics athletes about better health, but to serve as a unifying experience for all participants. This message is a key part of the foundation of the NCAA Division III SAAC and Special Olympics partnership which began over four years ago.

Click here to read the full Gettysburg College article.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bucks County Flag Football Scrimmage: Fairless Hills vs. Quakertown

Bucks County made Special Olympics Pennsylvania history on Saturday, October 24, 2015 by holding the first Flag Football scrimmage in the county, and certainly one of the first in the state.  Head Coach Harry Schmidtt of Quakertown hosted Coach Rob Caywood and the Brave Bucks of Fairless Hills in the morning match-up.

Flag Football Sports Director, Kathy Adkins, is thrilled that Bucks County has launched this new and emerging sport.  All of the athletes agreed that it was amazing to have this opportunity after weeks of training.

Many other Special Olympics counties have started training this fall, and will receive the opportunity to compete during the first Regional Invitational on November14th at the Newtown Athletic Club.

Let us know how your Flag Football start-up is going by contacting Kathy Reilly Adkins at kathy.r.adkins@gmail.com.  We want to hear from you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Montgomery County Athletes Play Unified

Fourteen LaSalle College High School rowing team members joined members from Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Montgomery County’s cross country team for the Springfield Township Community Day and 5K Race on Sunday, October 11, 2015.

The LaSalle College students’ enthusiastic support of their partners made a difference especially for several Special Olympics athletes who had never competed in the 5K distance before. The race organizers were pleased to support both teams, waived the entry fees, and also provided medals for all of the athletes.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

First U.S. Tennis Association SOPA Tournament

On Saturday, August 8, 2015, twenty-four athletes from Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties competed in the first U.S. Tennis Association Special Olympics Pennsylvania Tournament at Hempfield Area Recreation Center in Landisville, PA. In a collaboration between Tennis Central, Special Olympics Pennsylvania and USTA Middle States,the athletes competed across three divisions in round-robin format, with players matched up by age and skill level.  Above Photo Credit: Dan Marschka/Lancaster Online.

A championship round was played in the Stadium court to determine the winners of the open division.  Awards were then given out for all the divisions for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, and participation ribbons were awarded.  Participants also received backpacks, ear buds, and t-shirts courtesy of the USTA Middle States.
Following the round robin matches, sandwiches, snacks foods, water and Gatorade were provided.  

To view images from the Tournament, visit USTA’s Facebook page or view the Lancaster Online news article.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Home Community Honors Special Olympics World Games Athlete

Amanda Swazey’s home community of Selinsgrove welcomed her home with a hero`s reception after she won two medals in the Special Olympics World Summer Games. She was honored at one of the summer concerts at a park in the borough, and her employer Weis Markets provided her with a congratulatory cake, flowers, entrance sign and outdoor banner!  Way to Go!  

Click here to read the Channel 16 news story.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Interscholastic Unified Soccer Team Wins 2nd MLS Exchange

On Saturday, August 1, 2015, members of our Interscholastic Unified Sports soccer team played against a New Jersey team of players from Rowan University’s Special Olympics College unified group at PPL Park prior to the Philadelphia Union game vs. New York Red Bulls.  Students from Martin Luther King and Chester High Schools received Union jerseys with their last name on the back, shorts and socks.

Throughout the game, some Philadelphia Union members came to wish our team luck including midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin, forward Andrew Wenger, defender Raymond Lee, goalkeeper John McCarthy, and manager Jim Curtin. With high fives all around, our team was ready to play! Our Unified Philadelphia Union team looked great on the field. In a very exciting on field experience, our players walked away victorious 4-2 over New Jersey.

After the Exchange Game, our Philadelphia athletes and partners were able to enjoy the Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls game. During halftime, both Unified teams were brought on the field one last time to be awarded their medals. Sons of Ben (Philadelphia Union’s fan club) gave both Unified Teams roaring applause and support as the athletes and partners received their awards. Following the Union/Red Bulls game, both exchange teams and their families were invited to a reception before heading home.

Philadelphia Union’s Hometown Hero

Prior to the kickoff of the highly anticipated Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls match at PPL Park, Myra Ausberry was awarded the Hometown Hero Award.  The Hometown Hero Award recognizes those men and women who have made a difference in the lives of others. These heroes are ordinary people that have made an extraordinary impact through their service, dedication, knowledge and spirit. The Philadelphia Union looks to salute those heroes who have inspired people to improve the lives of their cities, towns, communities and neighbors.  Traditional values of teamwork, effort, accountability, trust and selflessness are the cornerstones of Philadelphia Union’s Hometown Heroes.

Myra Ausberry has volunteered countless hours as a coach to athletes in some of the most under served areas of the city for Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia program. She ensures that those she engages with know about the opportunities available through Special Olympics, and provides resources and personal support to them wherever needed. The energy that Myra brings to her role as a coach is contagious.  It is easy to see why the athletes and families enjoy being around her.

Myra’s support and commitment to her sports teams every season has not gone unnoticed.  She has personally helped athletes compete on both the local and national level.  In addition, her passion for Special Olympics goes beyond the seven sports she is certified to coach within the community program. She is also an active supporter of the Unified Sports program and is particularly known for her current coaching position with the Martin Luther King High School Unified Soccer Team.

Congratulations, Myra! We are so lucky to have such a committed volunteer!

Friday, July 31, 2015

2nd Annual Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match

On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, Special Olympics PA - Philadelphia athlete Angel Rosa and Unified Partner Edwin Leon traveled to Colorado for the second annual Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match, presented by MLS WORKS.  The Major League Soccer (MLS) Match featured a 7-v-7 East vs. West All-Star format for which eleven MLS teams sent Special Olympics athletes and Unified Partners to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. 

Angel and Edwin played for the East in a match consisting of two 20-minute halves wearing uniforms provided by ADIDAS. The two athletes, both Northeast High School students, represented Philadelphia well.

MLS WORKS and Special Olympics are working together to leverage the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance, by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics Unified Sports.

MLS participating celebrities included on-air talent Brian Dunseth who provided commentary and interviews with both players and coaches, Colorado Rapids players who acted as on-hand coaches, and LA Galaxy and U.S. National Legend Landon Donovan who presented the athletes and partners with medals after the game. The Western Conference All-Stars defeated the Eastern Conference All-Stars, 3-2. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Philadelphia’s Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) Youth Summit

Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Philadelphia’s Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) Youth Summit on June 10, 2015 was a huge success! Athletes and partners represented a few of our IUS Philadelphia schools, and they all did a great job. Many things were discussed during the day, and the athletes and partners had talks about what they enjoyed about the IUS program, as well as what can be added to make the program run smoother.  Both the athletes and partners had fun while participating in the program, and they also made lifelong friends in the process.

They started the day by listening to two guest speakers and then split into different groups to work on team-building and ice-breaking exercises.  The ideas that they gave us for next year’s IUS program were awesome, and we can’t wait to see if we can put them into practice. The energy and excitement that everyone had while participating is what really made this IUS Youth Summit such a huge success.  Hearing from the kids who are directly involved with the program gives us a great opportunity to upgrade the program for the future.  We would like to thank everyone who came out and spoke or helped.  We would also like to extend a huge thank you to The School District of Philadelphia for its hospitality! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Selinsgrove Woman Saddles Up for World Games

Congratulations once again Amanda Swazey for being one of the chosen few to participate in the upcoming 2015 World Summer Games in Los Angeles!

Click here to read The Daily Item article about her upcoming participation.

Friday, June 19, 2015

ESPN: Phelps Clinic with LA2015 Swimmers

ESPN Reporter Amy Rosewater wrote: Michael Phelps is using his star power as the world's most decorated Olympian to grow the sport and teach children and young adults all over the world. And he spent Saturday (May 30th) at that same swim club to share the techniques he used as a youngster with five swimmers who will compete at the Special Olympics World Games, which will be held July 25-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles (ESPN, WatchESPN). The participants included Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes Janine Calabrese from Erie City, Adam Smith from Area M, and Assistant Aquatics Coach Mark Euliano from Erie City.

Pictured above are images of Michael Phelps with Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes Adam Smith, Janine Calabrese, and Assistant Aquatics Coach Mark Euliano.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Philadelphia Program Receives Robert P. Levy Award

Pictured above: Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Philadelphia athletes Ian Capacio and Lisa Barbour (at left and right) stand with Taney Dragons Little League phenom Mo’ne Davis.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Philadelphia was awarded the Robert P. Levy Community Service Award as part of the 2015 Wanamaker Awards Luncheon at the Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia on Friday, June 12th.  The award is presented to an individual or organization that has done the most to “improve the quality of life in Philadelphia through sports.”  This is the 20th year in which the award has been presented.

Our Philadelphia program was honored along with the Taney Dragons Little League team who captivated the city with the first female, Mo’ne Davis, to ever pitch a complete game shutout at the Little League World Series.  The Taney Dragons were awarded the John Wanamaker Athletic Award and Don Richardson, Director of the Philadelphia Blackhawks Athletic Club, received the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Sports Volunteer of the Year Award.

Local Community Revitalizing Special Olympics Program

Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Greene County program is up and running again after a period of inactivity due to a lack of volunteer support. 
To get involved in the revitalization of the Special Olympics of Greene County contact 724-833-6408 or email greenecountyspecialolympics@gmail.com.
Click here to learn more via an Observer-Reporter news article.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

High School Youth "Spread the Word to End the Word"

Help us raise awareness about the hurtfulness of the R-word by pledging and sharing your stories year round.  Visit http://www.r-word.org/ and check out the video our friends at Pottsgrove High School in Pottstown, PA created to help “Spread the Word to End the Word.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

"In the Game" with Special Olympics Athlete Brian Stulz

Special Olympics PA - Philadelphia athlete Brian Stulz was profiled in an awesome In the Game video produced by Penn State University’s CommMedia!  The video talks about some of his crowning achievements on the court, as well as skills that extend to other areas of his life.  Click here to view the video.

ComMedia is a 24/7 newsroom and multimedia production facility used by the best students in the College of Communications to prepare them for professional media-related careers.

Content produced by students is broadcast locally, distributed over an HD campus channel, and delivered via this website, psucommedia.com.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Athlete Leaders In Action!

Special Olympics Pennsylvania Athlete & Global Messenger Nicole Huya from Warren County speaks to United Way on behalf of her workplace BEi.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Philadelphia Program’s First Ever Young Athletes Program

Special Olympics Pennsylvania - Philadelphia held its first ever Young Athletes Program on Sunday, April 26th at the Northeast Philadelphia YMCA for children ages 2 through 7. With a capped registration of 18 children split between the two classes, their first session was an absolute success!
This event is the first of many Philadelphia program Young Athlete 8-week programs to come with the hopes of continuing to grow throughout other areas in Philadelphia.  Feedback from parents about the need for a program of this nature has been overwhelming and the program is excited to finally have it underway, with a waiting list already established for the next session!  

To learn more about the Young Athletes Program and get your child on the waiting list, or to volunteer check out www.sopaphilly.org/youngathletes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

“Meet and Greet” at Waynesburg University

On April 18, 2015, students from Waynesburg University met with prospective athletes from Greene County for a “Meet and Greet” from 10 AM until 2 PM.  Over 60 students participated by providing publicity in the months prior to the event, photo and press coverage during the event, baking and acquiring donated food, setting up equipment for demonstrations, facilitating the demonstrations of volleyball, basketball and bocce, and working with future athletes to have a fun and informative day.
Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Greene County program is now ready to start training and competing again.  The newly organized management team will begin scheduling recreational league practices in bocce soon. 
Many thanks to Jim Tanda, Randi Chambers and Brianna Watt for their commitment to making Special Olympics come alive again in Greene County!  Many thanks also to the students of Waynesburg University who committed their time and talent to making this happen.  April 18th will go down as a great day for Special Olympics!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Special Olympics PA - Armstrong /Indiana County Program Prepares for Horse Show

The Equestrian Team representing Special Olympics PA’s Armstrong/Indiana county program has been training since October for its second annual horse show competition to be held on April 18 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Sergent Stables, 77 Horseshoe Drive in Indiana, PA.

Click here to read a Tribune-Review article about the upcoming event.  For more information: Contact Kristen Kalanavich at 724-388-5272, or email soeqteam@gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Successful Philadelphia Program Events' Recap!

The 30th Annual Leprechaun Run was a Wet Success

It couldn't have been any wetter for the 30th Annual Leprechaun Run, but over 500 runners and walkers braved the rain to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with Special Olympics Pennsylvania - Philadelphia. The Leprechaun Run was held on Saturday, March 14th adjacent to the Philadelphia Art Museum and Paine’s Park.

Prior to the race, managers from the Ambler, Langhorne and Philadelphia branches of Sam’s Club presented a check to Special Olympics Pennsylvania from their fundraising efforts equaling more than $200,000!  Following the Sam’s Club’s check presentation, participants were welcomed by Philadelphia athlete Lisa Barbour, who thanked participants for coming and led the crowd in reciting the Athlete Oath.   Lisa kicked off the race and off they went!

We concluded the Leprechaun Run by presenting awards to the top overall finishers and the top male and female in various age categories.  Everyone left wet and with a smile on their face as they said farewell to the 30th annual Leprechaun Run.  Click here to view event photos courtesy of TriState Media Productions.

Spring Fling Athlete Dance

The Philadelphia Program hosted a ‘Spring Fling Athlete Dance’ on Saturday and it was a huge success!  Current athletes, potential athletes, families and friends all joined us for a few hours of dancing and fun. Organized by our Athlete Committee and supported by Peggy Barbour and Coach Kit, the dance had over 75 people in attendance.  Through a $5 door fee, the event even raised approximately $300 for the program!  It was a great opportunity for the community to connect outside of practice and competition. The athletes are excited for the next one!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Paterno Family Island 5K Run

Special Olympics Pennsylvania - Schuylkill County is pleased to announce a new partnership with Penn State Schuylkill, The Paterno Family Island 5K Run. The Paterno family and Penn State University have a long and generous history of supporting Special Olympics of Pennsylvania. The Paterno family is expanding the reach of their annual Beaver Stadium Run by including Penn State Schuylkill as the first commonwealth campus to host a 5K on the same weekend! Schuylkill Haven Recreation Department is proud to partner with Special Olympics of Schuylkill County and Penn State Schuylkill to provide a beautiful park and course route.

Island Park, located in Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972, is an ideal location where runners will start and end the race. The course route will include a brisk run through a quiet neighborhood in Schuylkill Haven. All of the money raised by participants will be used to support the Special Olympics’ Schuylkill County program.

The Paterno Family Island 5K Run will be held on Saturday, April 18, 2015.  Registration for the 5K will be held from 7:30-8:30am; the race starts at 9am. Registration for the 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk will be held from 9:00-9:30am; the Fun Run/Walk will be held following the 5K at at 10:00am.

The Penn State Nittany Lion will be in attendance and face painting will be available.  Delicious samples of Yuengling’s Ice Cream will be available.  Additionally, Healthy Haven will have an informational tent as will other community organizations.

Click here to register online for The Paterno Family Island 5K Run through Pretzel City Sports. Any questions please email islandrun5k@gmail.com or call 570-294-2423.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Cynthia Zaffuto prepares for her blood pressure screening

On February 7, 2015, at Holy Redeemer Church Gym, the Special Olympics PA - Warren County Program, with a donation from BEI, Inc., held a Health Fair for their community of athletes.  This very successful fair included Blood Pressure screenings, vital signs – pulse and respiration, Pulse Oximetry to measure oxygenation saturation, height, weight and BMI readings and blood sugar screening with a glucometer.  A Dental Hygienist was available to answer questions and provide sample products and a vision screening team was on hand to test vision.

The goal for the Warren County program was to connect athletes with the medical community and to provide information and resources about their health needs.

Lunch was provided for all.