Thursday, November 17, 2016

Slippery Rock Named Unified Sports Center of Excellence

Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) held its first annual Western Pennsylvania Unified Youth Summit on November 15th, during which it recognized Slippery Rock University as a “Unified Sports Center of Excellence.”

SlipperyRock University graduate students from the Adapted Physical Activity program manage Unified Champion School strategies in eight high schools in Mercer, Butler and Lawrence Counties.  They serve as coaches for the winter Unified Indoor Bocce and spring Unified Track and Field programs, and work with youth leaders on whole school engagement.  Additionally, Slippery Rock is piloting a Unified Fitness initiative on campus which pairs college students with adult Special Olympics athletes for twice-a-week structured trainings.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools is a comprehensive program of the Unified Schools strategy that combines Unified Sports, Youth Leadership and Advocacy, and Whole School Engagement within the school environment to generate awareness and education activities that promote inclusion and reach the majority of the school population.  Click here to learn more.

Pictured (from left to right):  Slippery Rock University representatives Dr. James A. Preston -- Assistant to the Dean, College of Education; Wendy Fagan – Instructor, Adapted Physical Activity Program and VIP Sports Camp and Clinic Director; Dr. Keith Dils, Ed.D -- Dean, College of Education; Dr. Robert Arnhold -- Director of the Center on Disability and Health; and Matt Aaron – Special Olympics PA President and CEO.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Flag Football is THRIVING in Pennsylvania!

The Bucks County Believers hosted their 2nd Annual Flag Football Invitational on Saturday, Oct 29th at Neil Armstrong Middle School in Fairless Hills, PA.  Teams from Bucks, Delaware and Monroe Counties came to compete, make new friends, and earn medals. 

Members from the local Knights of Columbus organization graciously served as officials.  Head Coaches Bob, Mickey and Kathy from Bucks County; Taraz and Denise from Monroe County coaches; and Jeff from Delaware County were very proud of all that these athletes accomplished throughout the season.

Special Olympics PA is building this “emerging sport” and would love to assist in the formation of more flag football teams. We are training new coaches from counties all over the state, so if you would like to join in on the fun next year, please contact Jennifer Tresp at  or Kathy Reilly Adkins at

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Highlanders Host Special Olympics PA – Bucks County Soccer Scrimmages

Kudos to Special Olympics PA - Bucks County and the Cairn Highlanders' Athletic Department for hosting a successful unified soccer exhibition last week! The exhibition was the first of its kind hosted by the Cairn Athletic Department. Over 25 athletes were in attendance to take on the Highlanders. To continue these unified activities, flag football scrimmages are already on the calendar for Oct. 8.  #PlayUnified 

Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lebanon County Athletes are “Teammates for Life”

#‎TriumphTuesday – A story about the thrill of Special Olympics competition and joy of victory that includes the development of lasting friendships between Special Olympics Lebanon County athletes was has been shared in the 2016 Summer issue of USTA’s NetPlay Magazine. Thank you @USTA Middle States! Read the full magazine issue here:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Special Olympics Helps Athletes Lead Rewarding Lives

The Special Olympics experience fills a critical need in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, and the demonstration of competence to themselves, their families and the community. The improvements athletes make in social skills and friendships are often dramatic.   Special Olympics athletes learn developmental and life skills as the benefits of participation translate beyond sports, helping them to live more independent and rewarding lives.

Ronald Frank Nagel, a Delaware County athlete and Global Messenger, recently received a generous scholarship to continue his education in the Career Independent Living and Learning Studies (CILLS) Program at East Stroudsburg University from Ruby's Rainbow. The "goal and mission at Ruby’s Rainbow is to grant scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes, and help them achieve their dreams of higher education, while spreading awareness of their capabilities and general awesomeness."

Ronald will be entering his 3rd year in the program, where he is enjoying the life of a college student. He is taking classes and is involved in extra-curricular activities including Best Buddies Rehabilitative Services Student Organization (RSSO) where he is serving in leadership roles and interning at the WESS, the on-campus radio station. He has set many goals for himself, but his passion is to obtain a position at a radio station. He'll continue this year working on the skills needed to reach his dream.

Congratulations to Ronald and the thousands of Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes that achieve more independent and rewarding lives! 

Friday, June 10, 2016

4th Annual Unified Soccer Championship

On Tuesday, June 7th, Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Program (SOPA Philly) continued its strong partnership with the School District of Philadelphia to present the fourth annual Unified Soccer Championship held at Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia.  Opening Ceremonies for the Unified Soccer Championship kicked-off at 10:00am with event emcee and 93.3 WMMR DJ Matt Cord, followed by the Championship game at approximately 12:30pm.

The Championship matches featured teams from nine Philadelphia high schools from across the city including: Abraham Lincoln, Universal Audenried Charter, Frankford, Furness, George Washington, High School of the Future, Martin Luther King, Sayre, and Thomas Edison.  Approximately 100 athletes culminated months of preparation for these Unified Games and displayed the “best of the best” during this year’s competition.  An Olympics Town provided fun and entertainment for all guests with activities by Dave and Busters, Philadelphia Union, and Sambulance.  In addition, students from four middle and elementary schools were in attendance to cheer on the inspiring sportsmanship of the athletes in action.  Those schools included: Clara Barton Elementary School, Solis-Cohen Elementary School, Tilden Middle School, and Universal Daroff Elementary School.  

 Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that puts athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. This Interscholastic Unified Sports 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.  Additionally, a partnership with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) helps to provide officials for Unified events.

Check out news coverage of the Championship by PHL17.

Visit the Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia program website for more information, games results and photos!  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Special Olympics PA Athletes Compete At Penn Relays

On Friday, April 29, 2016, athletes from Special Olympics Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Texas and North Carolina participated in the Penn Relays, one of the oldest, largest and most renowned track and field competitions in the United States.  The Penn Relays are held annually at The University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field in Philadelphia, PA.

Pennsylvania sent a total of 19 athletes to participate.  Athletes competed with three traditional 4x100 relay teams, on a unified team (those with and without intellectual disabilities) consisting of athletes from Souderton High School, and two individual female athletes qualified for the 100M run.  Cheyenne Burton of Lehigh took first place in the 100M Dash, and our Souderton Unified Team took third place in the 4x100.  Click here to see more Penn Relay results.  

Special Olympics Pennsylvania has helped the movement to maintain Special Olympics participation at the Relays for many years. 

Congratulations to our Penn Relay Head of Delegation and Coach, Scott Otterbein, and to our athlete participants: Gabe Leone, Isaiah Creed Devine, Jake Lynch, John Closs, Cheyenne Burton, Michelle Eisenhower, Delina Rodriguez, Tarre Apreala, Sean Dewees, Chris Griffith, AJ Mucklow,  Erik Griffith, Brandon Batres, Houston McDaniel, Harrison Bell, Matthew Schoell, Colin Cox, Alex Brauman and Karl Dickersbach.     

Click here to view Penn Relay photos.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Conshohocken AMBUCS Annual Awards Banquet

Thirty years ago American Business Clubs (AMBUCS) chapters in Conshohocken, Phoenixville and the Norristown area formed a Special Athlete Program.  Beginning with only 30 athletes in track and field, the program now serves more than 160 athletes in 8 sports.  In partnership with Special Olympics Pennsylvania - Montgomery County, the Conshohocken AMBUCS program conducts training and local competition directed by Special Olympics certified coaches.  

The athletes are recognized during an Annual Awards Banquet that was held on April 17, 2016.  Most improved athlete awards are given for male and female athletes in volleyball, softball, aquatics, basketball, track and field, long distance running/walking, bocce and bowling.  Recognition is also given to most improved participants in the Young Athletes program.  In addition, two awards are given for overall sportsmanship and are named in honor of Vincent Gentile and Monica Silva, two original athletes of the program. 

AMBUCS Conshohocken President Peter Moore and Special Athlete Program Coordinator Vince Flocco are instrumental in the continued success of the Special Athlete Program. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

2016 SOPA Night at the 76ers

The 2016 Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Night at the 76ers featured nearly 80 athletes and more than 300 additional friends and family at the Wells Fargo Center to watch the Philadelphia 76ers clash with the Boston Celtics.  Although the Sixers did not win, it was more than a victorious evening for the athletes in attendance. The 76ers opened up the Wells Fargo Center court for an hour and a half of pre-game shooting, dribbling and basketball drills for athletes.
The clinic included the support of several 76ers Assistant Coaches as well as an appearance from Head Coach Brett Brown.  In addition, SOPA athletes were on the floor during pre game warm ups as part of the ‘High Five Tunnel’, greeting every member of the Sixers team as they took to the floor prior to the game.  The evening concluded with every athlete receiving an autographed Joel Embiid or Nerlens Noel autographed 8 x 10 photo.

Participating local Programs included: Area M, Lancaster, Northampton, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Schuylkill, and a few athletes from Special Olympics New Jersey.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Schuylkill County Island 5K Run & 1 Mile Fun Run

Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Schuylkill County will be hosting The Paterno Family Island 5k Run and 1 Mile Fun Run on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at Island Park, located in Schuylkill Haven, PA. 
The 5k will begin at 9 a.m., and the fun run will start at 10 a.m.  Costs are:
  • 5k Run/Walk - Individual: $25.00 plus $3.60 service fee through 04/01/2016; $30.00 plus $3.90 service fee through 04/13/2016
  • 5k Run/Walk - Team Member: $20.00 plus $3.30 service fee through 04/01/2016; $25.00 plus $3.60 service fee through 04/13/16  
  • 1 Mile Fun Run - Individual: $10.00 plus $2.70 service fee through 04/13/2016
  • 1 Mile Fun Run - Additional Family Member: $8.00 plus $2.40 service fee through 04/13/2016

To register, visit, email, or call Kathy Roth at 570-294-2423 with any questions!

Please note that this event is not to be confused with The Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run taking place on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at Penn State University. The Island 5K is a Schuylkill County event that is also named after The Paterno Family, longtime Special Olympics Pennsylvania supporters.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Philly Athletes Have a Night to Shine

Ten Special Olympics Pennsylvania - Philadelphia athletes attended a Night to Shine, in partnership with the Tim Tebow Foundation, on February 12, 2016. Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience for people with special needs ages 16 and older.

Our athletes looked amazing as they entered the prom on a red carpet complete with welcoming and friendly "paparazzi.” Once inside, our athletes received the VIP treatment including mini hair and makeup stations, shoe shining stations, corsages and boutonnieres, a karaoke room, and of course, dinner and dancing!  The highlight of the night came when every one of the Night to Shine guests were crowned as a king or queen of the prom.

Athletes in attendance included: Teddy Angerman, Ian Aviso, Jackie Lutts, Heather Lutts, Stephen McGarry, Emmett Abdo, James Shelton, Stanley Dluzniewski, Kelly Dluzniewski, and Kristie Walls.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

SONA Coach of the Year Finalist

Frances Moore from our Philadelphia program has been recognized as a Special Olympics North America 2015 Coach-of-the-Year Finalist. The Special Olympics North America (SONA) Coach of the Year Award is given annually to a Special Olympics coach who has made a significant and demonstrable impact on local Special Olympics Programs and their communities.

As a Coach-of-the-Year recipient, Fran is in the company of the region’s finest coaches – true leaders and dedicated coaches who serve as role models to other coaches, inside and outside of Special Olympics.  She has positively impacted athletes, family members and the community.  We are grateful for her hard work, applaud her high standards of excellence, and admire her generosity of heart.  Fran is now considered among SONA’s Coaching Dream Team that consists of 16 additional finalists and the Coach of the Year, Tom Norton from Canada.

About Frances (Fran) Moore
Fran is an inspirational person with an enthusiastic attitude.  Since she started volunteering for Special Olympics PA - Philadelphia a decade ago, she has served on the Management Team where she held the Family Coordinator position.  Within that position, Fran lead the charge to solicit athlete input and take their feedback into consideration in all aspects of Special Olympics programming.

She believes that all athletes have a voice and should be heard. That is why she also serves as a mentor for her daughter Katie Moore, who is a Global Messenger.  Through Fran’s efforts, four athletes now serve as mentors to their fellow teammates; and she has encouraged and mentored three other former aquatics athletes.

Fran is currently certified in soccer and aquatics where she trains over 100 athletes each week and dedicates every weekend to coach.  As a physical therapist, Fran knows that eating healthy, training, and proper stretching are the keys to being a healthy athlete.  She encourages her athletes to eat healthy and teaches them proper techniques to stretching before and after practices. 

In addition to her commitment to our current athletes, families and volunteers, Fran is always in search of new coaches.  Over the past several years, Fran has recruited more than 10 coaches to assist at aquatics trainings.

Fran has positively impacted the entire Philadelphia program, as evidenced by her receiving the 2015 Special Olympics Pennsylvania Coach of the Year Award. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SOPA Advocates for Federal Support on Capitol Hill

Special Olympics athletes, leaders, and family members from 39 states converged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on February 10th for Special Olympics’ 14th Annual “Capitol Hill Day.”  Throughout the day, Special Olympics athletes from across the nation, including Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Bedford County athlete Christa Mereen, held more than 250 face-to-face meetings with their Congressional representatives to advocate for continued federal support for critical health and education services provided by Special Olympics. These services transcend the playing field and transform the lives of athletes and families, bringing inclusion and greater acceptance of all abilities to classrooms across the country and providing essential health care that is otherwise often unavailable due to the lack of trained health care providers and facilities.

Special Olympics self-advocates educated lawmakers and their staffs about the significant consequences that arise from the stigma and stereotypes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face and how that impacts their lives in the areas of sports, health care, education, and employment. The goal is to effectively convey the high-impact and cost-effectiveness of Special Olympics’ evidence-based programming that addresses these issues, and to secure continued support from legislators.

Christa was able to meet with several staff members as well as officials like Rep. Mike Doyle for PA’s 14th Congressional District, Rep. Ryan Costello for the 16th District, Congressman Glenn Thompson for the 5th District, Rep. Lou Barletta for the 11th District, and Rep. Bill Shuster for the 9th District.  Click here to view Capitol Hill Day photos.
Capitol Hill Day concluded with a private reception at the Library of Congress for participating Special Olympics athletes and their state delegations. 

Special thanks to our athlete representative Christa Mereen who was accompanied by her family members, Marty, Tom and Kate Mereen, and Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s VP of Finance and Administration Susan Wyland. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

World Winter Games 2017 Pre-Games

Team USA Speed Skaters with their medals. Tim (Area M), Rory (North Carolina) and Dan (Area M).
Two speed skating athletes, Tim McConnell and Dan Weatherwalk, and Coach Amanda Kateluzos from Special Olympics PA’s Area M program participated in the Special Olympics 2017 World Winter Pre-Games in Austria from January 10 – 15, 2016.  The Pre-Games served as an opportunity for athletes to come and test, feel out World Winter Games events, and be exposed to what the Winter Games (including the Host Town) will offer for the actual World Winter Games!  

Team USA with their medals.
Sporting competitions in figure and speed skating, stock sports, floorball, alpine skiing and snowboarding, motor activity training, and nordic skiing and snowshoeing were offered.  The competitions were held in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau for more than 1,000 athletes and 500 trainers from 21 participating nations.  The Games also included Opening, Award, and Closing ceremonies, as well as Healthy Athletes programs.  

The Special Olympics World Winter Games will take place in Austria from March 14 – 25 in 2017. Visit

Monday, January 4, 2016

Warren County Athletes Make Holiday Donation

Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Warren County collected non-perishable food items from athletes and volunteers during their annual Christmas party held on December 6th.   The athletes decided to donate the items collected to the food pantry at the First Church of the Nazarene.  This food pantry provides approximately 5,000 lbs. of food to more than 150 families per month.  The food pantry is able to support these families through local donations of food and money.  

Shown in the photo from Special Olympics are Norm Kightlinger, Kayla Smith, Mike Gray, Nicole Huya and Cindy Zaffino.  Also pictured from the First Church of the Nazarene food pantry are David Snyder and Jim Swanson.