Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Tony Carney

#50for50: Volume 26
▪️ Tony Carney
▪️ 63 years old
▪️ Chester County

“I lived across the street from Elwyn Institute where I used their facilities to work out, sometimes without their knowledge. After a while I started getting kicked out by security. I played basketball in high school and college [at the University of the Sciences] and I had a chance to play professionally overseas in Ireland. When I came home I was really lost. I was really emotionally lost when I wasn’t playing anymore. I went over and talked to the Athletics Director at Elwyn and asked if I could do something as a volunteer. And that’s when they got me an employee credential, so I wasn’t getting kicked out by security anymore. I did bowling with the adults from the Institute and had a wonderful time. I started doing classroom stuff from 1982-85, but when I changed jobs to the pharmaceutical industry, a lot of that went by the wayside because that was a 24/7, 365 job. … We started our team from scratch in 2003. Patrick, my first-born son, was getting to be old enough that he was involved. When he was 2 or 3 we started getting these diagnoses. They put him in developmental medicine at AI duPont and the reports coming back weren’t real good. They were saying he’s not going to accomplish very much. He’s 30 now. So once he was old enough to participate, Patrick’s mom said to me, ‘If I do the paperwork, will you coach the team?’ And I said, ‘If you do the paperwork, I’ll do anything.’ … That first year, we went to the Downingtown Tournament and got clobbered. We lost every game. Then in 2004 I said, ‘I just want to win one game.’ We ended up going undefeated in our region and went to Penn State and won gold in our division. … We’ve had two college graduates, we have an Eagle Scout. Our players have done remarkable things. I still have two of my original players, but we’ve had the better part of 100 kids come through. It’s not like a high school or college team. They don’t have to graduate if they don’t want to. Our core players, most of them have been around for a decade or more. They’ve taught me more than I’ve taught them. I never wanted to be a basketball coach before I got to coach them. … We practice on Sunday mornings. It’s not uncommon to have them back here in my basement, playing video games, howling and laughing and joking with each other. You can’t make people do that, they either do it naturally or they don’t. It was very difficult for me to tell them it was all cancelled this year. I’ll see them in the supermarket, they’re talking about Penn State. That’s their goal. They think about it all the time. I’ve come out of games after losses and they’re in the hallway in tears and I think, ‘God, I’ve created a monster.’ They’re very resilient. … We don’t keep stats. The only stat I know is that 13 of 14 years we’ve been to states. We’ve medaled every time we’ve gone. To see the looks in their eyes when they have that feeling of accomplishment, when they’ve won tournaments — I said, ‘Never forget this feeling. This will help you your whole life. You know that you can do it.’ … The last 18 months, I’ve had a bout with cancer. People ask me, ‘What should we tell the players?’ I said, ‘I’ll tell them.’ That and the season being cut off at the knees this year has made me reflect on a lot of the time I’ve had with the group. It’s been a blessing to me. I hope I’ve been able to help them along. It warms my heart. When I look back on all the things I’ve done in basketball, this might be the best thing I’ve ever done or ever been associated with.”

Commit to Fit, Volume 44

On the cusp of this Memorial Day Weekend, we’re excited to bring you today’s 44th workout in Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s 𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗠𝗜𝗧 𝗧𝗢 𝗙𝗜𝗧 video series! 💪🍎☺️

Today’s session was sent to us by Washington County athlete Derek Cernecky and his sister Denise Green! You can tell what an awesome time Derek and Denise have doing this workout as they’ll lead the way for some lunges and high knees!

And remember — check back every weekday at 10:30 a.m. EST for a new workout video. If you missed any of the previous workouts, you can find them here.

Commit to Fit, Volume 43

It might just be because we’re so excited for the 2020 Virtual Summer Games to get here, but these days are flying by!! And with that, we’ve got today’s 43rd workout in Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s 𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗠𝗜𝗧 𝗧𝗢 𝗙𝗜𝗧 video series! 💪🍎☺️

For this session, we’re led by Trevor Ciampoli, an athlete from Montgomery County! Trevor is going to get us up to speed with an incredible boxing workout. And he also put some pretty sweet video editing skills on display!

And remember — check back every weekday at 10:30 a.m. EST for a new workout video. If you missed any of the previous workouts, you can find them here.

Commit to Fit, Volume 42

Happy Wellness Wednesday, everyone!! We are so excited for today’s 42nd workout in Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s 𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗠𝗜𝗧 𝗧𝗢 𝗙𝗜𝗧 video series! 💪🍎☺️

For today’s session, we’re joined by Shelley Peterman, an athlete from Area M! Shelley is going to lead us in a triceps workout, as well as push-ups and squats! Be sure to check out her amazing health/wellness tips throughout as well!

And remember — check back every weekday at 10:30 a.m. EST for a new workout video. If you missed any of the previous workouts, you can find them here.

Commit to Fit, Volume 41

What’s up everyone! We are so pumped for today’s 41st workout in Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s 𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗠𝗜𝗧 𝗧𝗢 𝗙𝗜𝗧 video series! 💪🍎☺️

For today’s session, we’re going to be joined by someone we know and love, who will help us focus on mindfulness and mental health — Megan Sicheri, who is the co-founder of Open Up PGH, an organization that teaches movement and mindfulness practices to individuals with disabilities! We’re going to focus on some mindful stretching today, so let’s all jump in and re-center ourselves!

And remember — check back every weekday at 10:30 a.m. EST for a new workout video. If you missed any of the previous workouts, you can find them here.

Commit to Fit, Volume 40

Happy Monday, everybody!! If you can believe it, we’re at our 40th workout in Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s 𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗠𝗜𝗧 𝗧𝗢 𝗙𝗜𝗧 video series! 💪🍎☺️

We’re remarkably excited to be joined today by Dr. Mary Stephens from Jefferson Health and her daughter Callie from Special Olympics Delaware (SODE)! Today they’re going to be leading us in step-ups and arm raises and Dr. Stephens will also talk us about the option of telehealth while we’re staying at home!

And remember — check back every weekday at 10:30 a.m. EST for a new workout video. If you missed any of the previous workouts, you can find them here.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Alex Grubisa

#50for50: Volume 25
▪️ Alex Grubisa
▪️ 26 years old
▪️ Westmoreland County

“Basketball is my favorite because I’m really good at it. I played on my basketball team all through high school when I at Clelian Heights. It was a Catholic school for kids with special needs and now my former basketball coach there is my coach for Special Olympics. He’s a really good coach and he’s really awesome. He teaches us a lot of stuff and inspires us and motivates us into doing our best to have fun and support our teammates. In high school, we played against two other special needs schools in the county, and it was good just being on the court and having fun with my friends. Our biggest rival was Clairview. They had some really good athletes. I had my best game against them one time when I scored 32 points and got 18 rebounds. … I’m a really good bowler, too. I remember back in December, it was December 7th on my birthday, I got first place and then I got a really big kiss from my girlfriend since she found out I won. It was her first year doing bowling, too. We’ve been together for six months. And bowling for Special Olympics was on the same day as I was doing a show for my acting class. I’m involved in an Autism workshop called The Stage Right Inspirations. I’ve been with them for three years. I’ve always been interested in acting and that’s how I met my girlfriend. … We meet for the acting class every Friday and it’s very inclusive. We do junior versions of actual shows. Right now we’re doing Aladdin and I’m playing Jafar. We’ve been doing Zoom meetings recently, but we were rehearsing for Aladdin at the studio [before the pandemic]. I also work as a camp counselor, a camp buddy for an Autism camp at Antiochian Village. I enjoy working with younger children who have Autism like I do. … I work at my former high school as a Teacher’s Assistant and a part-time PCA [Personal Care Assistant]. After I finished two years at Westmoreland County Community College, I volunteered at my high school for three years. And then I got a job application from my former principal and she said it’d be nice for me to work there. At the time, there had never been a former student with special needs who came back as an employee, so I became the first person to do that. It’s kind of nostalgic to me. It’s like seeing part of my childhood again. As a teacher’s assistant, I help a lot of teachers and PCA’s with their jobs. I also am really good at doing tasks for some of them. And I enjoy working with the kids. I enjoy helping them the way I was helped when I was a kid. … My parents are my biggest support system and they help me a lot. I’ve been living on my own ever since I was 21. I’m saving up for a car and hoping to get my Learner’s Permit and Driver’s License soon. I understand that not a lot of people my age or who are just like me are so lucky. I understand that some of them can’t always live on their own. They have to go to a workshop or group home and might not be able to get a job, so that’s why I try to give back.”