SOPA News Roundup

It’s been a fantastic week for Special Olympics Pennsylvania competition and events throughout the state… Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to!

From 6-WJAC: Special Olympics athletes prepare for Winter Games; invitational held this weekend

From The Tribune-Democrat: ‘Inspirational’ athletes compete at Special Olympics invitational

From Fox 43: Hundreds brave the freezing water for the 15th Annual Capital Area Polar Plunge in York County

From WFMZ-69 News: Special Olympics bowlers roll into the Lehigh Valley

From the Altoona Mirror: Taking the Plunge (Winter Games Polar Plunge)

Photo courtesy The Tribune-Democrat

Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Emma Donnelly

#50for50: Volume 9
▪️ Emma Donnelly
▪️ Kensington High School
▪️ Philadelphia County

“My parents are both from Northern Ireland. I’m considered Irish-American. I don’t know if you can hear the accent a little bit. Some people can hear it. I went to Ireland last summer and it was fun. It’s a pretty good lifestyle, but it gets a little boring after while. You know what? It gets cold there. And it’s not like here. Here is very, very, very good and I don’t want to live in Ireland. I want to stay right where I am in Fishtown and not move anywhere else. I like to walk with my dog and see my friends. I go by some of their houses and say ‘Hey, how are you?’ and they say ‘Hi’ back to me. … I’m loving the Special Olympics. It’s kind of competitive with all the other schools, but it’s pretty fun to get to congratulate all the other teams and talk to them and things like that. It’s my second year doing bocce. Our coach, Mr. [Brandon] Hirsch, he’s really into the game with us and really shows respect for us. He really loves us and really loves our team. It’s really, really fun and competitive and I love the experience. You feel regular playing bocce. I’m autism and I feel normal. I like to talk to everybody and they talk back to me and play jokes on me. It’s the best feeling for me. … I’m thinking about doing Project SEARCH at Drexel University. It’s for people on the autism spectrum. I’m going to do an interview in March and if I do well on it, I’ll get accepted there and maybe get a job. … I want to do public speaking. I spoke at the Opening Ceremony today. It was pretty good and I wasn’t nervous at all. I also speak at church. I read there, not every Sunday but some Sundays. The news was here [at the Unified Bocce Championships] today I did want to be on TV and say some things. But, you know what? It’s all good. Maybe next time.”

Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Diamonte Anderson

#50for50: Volume 8
▪️ Diamonte Anderson
▪️ 24 years old
▪️ Beaver County

“I’m from Beaver County Special Olympics and I play soccer. I’ve been playing for a few years. I got involved through school. It makes me feel happy, healthy. It keeps me in good shape. It got me into weight lifting too, to stay healthy and to stay fit. I just lift weights to stay fit, but I’m thinking about [competing in] powerlifting. Probably next Fall I should do it because I’ll be 25. I’m a man. I can do it. … I want to be a male model. That’s why I like taking pictures. I want to send them to a modeling agency. I’m very social and friendly. … My favorite part is hanging out with friends and socializing. It’s like a big family. It’s a big friendship type of thing. It’s about being nice and being respectful. Sometimes, you might catch heat or some people might have an attitude, but just stay positive and you’ll be good. … I would tell people that [Special Olympics] is great for Autism, Down syndrome, Asperger syndrome — everybody’s different but we all can do it. If you want to try to do Special Olympics, go out, do it, have fun, have friends or family help you and you’ll be good. And be nice and be social.”

SOPA hosts Multi-Chamber Networking Reception at 7 Springs

We were honored that Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Somerset was designated as the host charity of the 2020 Winter Kickoff & Multi-Chamber Networking Reception at Seven Springs Resort last Friday.

During the program, SOPA Board of Directors member and Law Enforcement Torch Run Director, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert spoke to all in attendance to help spread the mission of Special Olympics.

Thank you to the Pittsburgh Business Exchange and the Somerset Chamber of Commerce for making this happen!

Pictured (L to R): Ethan Nicholas (Pittsburgh Business Exchange), Brian Miller (SOPA Somerset Athlete), Scott Schubert (Pittsburgh Chief of Police), George Robinson II (UPMC), State Senator Patrick Stefano, Kraig Makohus (SOPA)

Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Alaina & Angelanette

#50for50: Volume 7
▪️ Alaina Neubauer & Angelanette Arrubla
▪️ Monroe, NY & Easton, PA
▪️ DeSales University

Alaina: “We learned about this in education history. In the past, the way that people with intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities were treated was crazy. Why would we treat people that way? … I think it’s important to realize that we’re all different but we’re all special and we all have something to offer this world. Whether that be a smile that could make someone’s day, or helping an athlete across a finish line. I think it’s important to realize that we have to give what we take from the world and this event [Eastern Fall Sectional] allows us to give and take and I think that’s an amazing thing. … I work at Nike for my summer job and one of the sayings is basically, “sports for everyone.” Sports has taught me so much in my life and I think that it does the same for people with intellectual disabilities. I think it’s important to realize that sports brings us all together as one human person. …  DeSales is a small campus. I love that we host Special Olympics. I think, for a campus where we pride ourselves on holding the door for each other, it’s amazing how we’ve become a community for this event.”

Angelanette: “I used to do theater in high school. We had someone with an intellectual disability in all of our shows. We would interact and we were so close to each other. But I had never heard of Special Olympics [before I got to DeSales]. So once I got here, I decided I wanted to join. And now I want to get my Masters in Special Education because of these experiences.”

Joe Haden & Steelers donate to SOPA

Earlier this month, we received a $2,500 donation from Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Joe Haden, which was matched by Steelers Charities. The funds come thanks to the NFL’s Social Justice Initiative. The support we get from the Steelers and their players is absolutely incredible. Our athletes and volunteers thank you!

To read more about the NFL’s Social Justice Initiative, click here.

Joe Haden walks onto the field with Special Olympics PA athletes at the 2019 Steelers Family Fest

Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Tommy Perrotti

#50for50: Volume 6
▪️ Tommy Perrotti
▪️ 21 years old
▪️ Lehigh County

“I’ll never forget this. I was doing security last year and my coach called me and said, ‘We’re ready to go.’ So I went to the bathroom and changed from khakis to shin guards in a matter of five minutes. That’s something I’ll never forget. … I’m a senior Sport Management major here at DeSales. It’s my second year doing Special Olympics here at the University. Last year, I was on the Transportation & Security committee and Lehigh’s Unified soccer coach and his son were on it as well. He asked if anyone had played soccer before and I said I played for about 15 years or so. … So I started practicing. I fell in love with the team right away as soon as I got to meet them. Playing for so long and not being able to play in college, it meant a lot to me to be able to help the team out. It meant a lot to be able to be on a team again. I’ve gone to Hershey with the team, I’ve gone to Villanova. Special Olympics has meant a lot to me. … It’s definitely a great opportunity, especially if you enjoy sports and if you want to get involved in a different way rather than just doing paperwork or spreadsheets or something like that. It’s more meaningful. You’re sitting with the team. You’re on the bus rides. You’re getting to learn more about your teammates’ lives and why they’re here and why they wanted to play. And why they want to go out every day and do their best. As a Unified partner, I was able to have a lot of opportunities in life, but the athletes, they had to fight for them.”