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.  

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  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.