SOPA President & CEO Matt Aaron named a 2022 Philadelphia Titan 100

Titan CEO and headline sponsor Wipfli LLP are pleased to announce Matthew B. Aaron, President and CEO of Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA), as a 2022 Philadelphia Titan 100. The Titan 100 program recognizes Philadelphia’s Top 100 CEO’s & C-level executives. They are the area’s most accomplished business leaders in their industry using criteria that includes demonstrating exceptional leadership, vision, and passion.  Collectively the 2022 Philadelphia Titan 100 and their companies employ upwards of 70,000 individuals and generate over $14 billion dollars in annual revenues. This year’s honorees will be published in a limited-edition Titan 100 book and profiled exclusively online. They will be honored at an awards ceremony on September 8th, 2022 and will be given the opportunity to interact and connect multiple times throughout the year with their fellow Titans.

“The Titan 100 are shaping the future of the Philadelphia’s business community by building a distinguished reputation that is unrivaled and preeminent in their field. We proudly recognize the Titan 100 for their successes and contributions. We know that they will have a profound impact that makes an extraordinary difference for their customers and clients across the nation.” says Jaime Zawmon, President of Titan CEO.

As SOPA’s President and CEO, Matt Aaron is responsible for leading a statewide organization providing year-round training and competition in 21 Olympic-type sports for nearly 13,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  SOPA offers more than 500 competition opportunities each year via an amazing network of local programs with more than 6,000 volunteer coaches.  For more than 50 years, SOPA has used the power of sports to transform the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.  But, SOPA is much more than a sports organization. Through its Athlete Leadership programs, athletes receive training and assume meaningful leadership roles where they influence change within the Special Olympics movement and their communities.  SOPA also addresses major disparities in healthcare via its Healthy Athletes program that offers athletes free health screenings in six different disciplines. And, through Unified Sports, SOPA brings together individuals with and without intellectual disabilities as equal teammates which promotes respect and inclusion.  SOPA now has Unified Champion Schools programs in more than 250 schools around the state.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be named a 2022 Philadelphia Titan 100,” says Matt Aaron.  “I look forward to being recognized along with my fellow honorees and using this opportunity to raise awareness about the life-transforming work of Special Olympics.”

Matt will be honored at the Titan 100 awards on September 8th, 2022 at The Drexelbrook located in Drexel Hill, PA. From hosting American Bandstand with Dick Clark to surviving a 1978 fire, the Drexelbrook has changed and evolved for more than 70 years to best suit the community as a private club, hotel, and event center.  This unique cocktail-style awards event will gather 100 Titans of Industry and their guests for an evening unlike anything that exists in the Philadelphia business community.

“On behalf of the partners and associates at Wipfli we congratulate all the Titan100 winners. It’s an honor to recognize this diverse group of leaders in the Philadelphia community. We appreciate the lasting impact each leader has made, and continues to make, in building organizations of significance that in many cases have not only local but national and international reach. Your ingenuity and creativity have set you apart, and the honor of being seen as an industry Titan is richly deserved,” says W. Bradley Baturka, Mid Atlantic Leader and Partner at Wipfli.

2022 USA Games Profiles: Jacob Carey

This is Jacob Carey.

Jacob is a Special Olympics Pennsylvania athlete from Lycoming County who competed in bocce at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.

Throughout three levels of competition (singles, doubles and team) Jacob captured two gold medals and one silver on the sport’s biggest stage.

We took a moment to catch up with Jacob and talk about his sport, his family and his experience in Orlando.

“I’ve been playing bocce for a year now, but I’ve been swimming all my life. When I got into this it was new to me, but I thoroughly enjoy it and I want everybody else to enjoy it. There are probably people who are like, ‘oh, it’s just an old man’s game, there’s nothing to it.’ But if you just see how everybody else is acting, how they like this game, you would cherish it too. …

I’m glad I came here to experience this – not everyone can say that they came to Orlando to participate in the USA Games and say they came out with a gold medal. The match was back and forth, but once I heard ‘one point, red’ and I won the match, it felt invigorating. I felt a sense of euphoria after that. I was just so happy and overjoyed. I just had a smile on my face that I couldn’t get rid of. Even after this is all over and everyone goes home, they’ll remember the days that they were in Orlando for the USA Games. And they should hold onto that with pride and integrity. …

I am a man that wants to see others happy, wants to see others succeed and wants to help. I just want to be that person that people can count on, cry on their shoulder, and know that when things are going bad, there’s always a light at the end of the darkness. …

When it comes to this sport and [Special Olympics], you feel like you are in a special group and a special society, you feel like there are people who care about you when no one else does. Special Olympics has been my family ever since I started this and I would not have it any other way. …

My dad dying in a coma accident was the hardest part [of my life]. It was tough but I managed to overcome it and push forward. I said, ‘I can’t let this depression hold me down and have me be such a downer.’ I was 16 or 17 when he died and I’m 27, going to be 28. When I compete, I dedicate all my matches for swimming and bocce to my dad. And even [in Orlando], I still dedicate all my matches to my dad to this day. …

If I were to see his face right now, he would say that he would be proud of me and that I just should strive on and keep on going, never give up and keep on doing what you’ve been doing. I can’t add anything further to that, just to say that I hope he’s doing well.”

2022 USA Games: Total Medal Count

The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando came to a close one week ago today! We can’t believe it’s already been a week since we celebrated all of our incredible Team Pennsylvania athletes. And, in honor of this anniversary, we wanted to publish this list of ALL the medals and awards won by our incredible team during our time in Florida! We’re so proud of all the coaches, athletes, staff and everyone in-between who made this possible! Stay tuned for photo albums from USA Games and Summer Games coming in the next two weeks!

TEAM PENNSYLVANIA – 2022 Special Olympics USA Games
TOTAL MEDALS: 99 (35 Gold, 31 Silver, 33 Bronze)

Team Sports

Basketball, Fourth

(Patrick Carney, Shane Frank, Ethan Fraterman, Corey Gerber, Patrick Montgomery, Jordan Schubert, Daveon Wheeler)

Flag Football, Bronze

(Devon Clements, Lenwood Dennis, Lavar Gladden, Kenneth Lamont, Denzel McFadden, Abdul Muhammad, JaBari Patterson, Christopher Ray, Andre Richardson, Jose Serrano, Paris Wallace)

Soccer, Gold

(Shawn Andrews, Johnathan Ashton, Tyler Baumgartner, Greg Bazzoli, Kathryn Day, Nancy Grimm, Justin Guthrie, Joshua Hubbard, Andrew Knight, Jackson Knight, Andrew Mayer)

Softball, Bronze

(Nathan Boyle, Karla Garr, Daniel Hogan, Seth Holland, Brandon Krekeler, Donald Laudenslager, Joshua Moore, Bradley Moyer, Timothy Moyer, Christina Saraceno, Hilary Stonewall, Joni Talavera, Christian Vegas, Audrey Yanacek, Christopher Wasiewicz)

Volleyball, Silver

(Todd Corman, John Garlock, Emily Koontz, James Milliken, Austin Milliken, Chris Nichols, TJ Richert, Jon Richert, Dena Russ, Christian Shangraw, McKenzie Wagner, Greg Zimmerman)

Athletics

Sydney Benner
Gold, mini-javelin
Fifth, 100m
Eighth, 200m

Jason Bilger
Sixth, mini-javelin
Sixth, 200m
Eighth, 100m

Tabatha Bilger
Gold, mini-javelin
Fourth, 100m walk
Fourth, 400m walk

Maria Daniella Brandt
Gold, 5k
Gold, 10k
Silver, 3000m

Matthew Himmelreich
Bronze, Heptathlon

Jessica Hott
Silver, 800m
Fourth, 400m
Seventh, 1500m

Daniel Maier
Bronze, 400m
Silver, shot put
Eighth, 800m

Michael Walker
Silver, 100m walk
Bronze, mini-javelin
Fourth, 400m walk

Bocce

Team:
Gold, Unified (Allison Anderson, Jesse Graham, John Graham, Erin Lehman)
Gold, (Melissa Holt, Seth Krokonko, Anne Luley, Brett Newman)
Gold, (Matt Anthony, Nicholas Boone, Jacob Carey, Johanna Schoeneck)

Doubles:
Jacob Carey & Johanna Schoeneck, Silver
Melissa Holt & Anne Luley, Bronze
Seth Krokonko & Brett Newman, Silver
Matt Anthony & Nicholas Boone, Silver

Unified Doubles:
Jesse Graham & John Graham, Bronze
Erin Lehman & Allison Anderson, Silver

Singles:
Allison Anderson, Fourth
Matthew Anthony, Bronze
Nicholas Boone, Silver
Jacob Carey, Gold
Jesse Graham, Fifth
Melissa Holt, Fourth
Seth Krokonko, Bronze
Anne Luely, Bronze
Brett Newman, Gold
Johanna Schoeneck, Silver

Bowling

Team:
Gold, Unified (Byron Keith-Diemer, Sean Loner, Christian Murphy, Dyan Wilson)
Gold (Chassidy Addelman, Lillie Baum, Nicholas Mazzocco, Heather Saylor)
Silver (Alex Lesse, Samantha Konowal, Kevin Rathgeber, Alex Stefano)

Doubles:
Chassidy Addelman & Alex Stefano, Gold
Lillie Baum & Heather Saylor, Gold
Samantha Konowal & Kevin Rathgeber, Fourth
Alex Lesse & Nicholas Mazzocco, Silver

Unified Doubles:
Sean Loner & Byron Keith-Diemer, Fifth
Dyan Wilson & Christian Murphy, Bronze

Singles:
Chassidy Addelman, Gold
Lillie Baum, Fifth
Byron Keith-Diemer, Seventh
Samantha Konowal, Sixth
Alex Lesse, Fifth
Nicholas Mazzocco, Silver
Christian Murphy, Fifth
Kevin Rathgeber, Sixth
Heather Saylor, Gold
Alexander Stefano, Sixth

Equestrian

Caroline Kilareski
Silver, dressage
Fourth, English working trails
Bronze, English equitation

Anthony Timinski
Silver, English equitation
Fifth, English working trails

Golf

Jennifer Bottomley, Silver
Nicholas McNally, Gold, skills
Zachary Hicks, Bronze
Megaehen Lewis, Gold, skills
Cody Sedziak, Gold, skills

Gymnastics

Molly Hosey
Bronze, All-Around
Bronze, Bars
Bronze, Beam
Silver, Floor
Bronze, Vault

Kyrie Troche
Gold, All-Around
Silver, Bars
Silver, Beam
Gold, Floor
Gold, Vault

Zarrah Vitale
Gold All-Around
Bronze, Bars
Silver, Beam
Bronze, Floor
Bronze, Vault

Simone Williams
Silver, All-Around
Bronze, Bars
Gold, Beam
Bronze, Floor
Bronze, Vault

Powerlifting

Joshua Poleshuk
Silver, bench press

Delina Rodrigues
Silver, bench press
Silver, combined
Silver, deadlift
Silver, squat

Swimming

Matthew Bakalorz
Gold, 100 yd freestyle
Sixth, 50 yd backstroke
Fourth, 50yd freestyle

Joel Blazure
Gold, 25 yd freetyle
Sixth, 25 yd backstroke

Jessica Bloom
Gold, 25 yd freestyle
Gold, 25 yd backstroke

Nissi Bolash
Fourth, 200 yd freestyle
Fourth, 500 yd freestyle
Seventh, 100 yd freestyle

Lisa Clearfield
Fifth, 50 yd freestyle
Bronze, 100 yd freestyle

Kevin Lezynski
Bronze, 100m freestyle
Fifth, 100m backstroke
Sixth, 200m freestyle

Lily Seagraves
Gold, 25yd backstroke
Silver, 50 yd freestyle
Fifth, 50yd backstroke

Marty Zeamer
Bronze, 50yd freestyle
Seventh, 50yd backstroke

Bronze, 4×25 yd freestyle relay (Joel Blazure, Jessica Bloom, Lisa Clearfield, Marty Zeamer)

Tennis

Doubles:
Daniel Blatt & Carol Dorohovech, Gold
Garran Burget & Kaitlyn Good, Fourth

Singles:
Daniel Blatt, Gold
Garran Burget, Bronze
Carol Dorohovech, Gold
Kaitlyn Good, Fourth

Unified Track & Field

Unified Team Event: 5th Place (33 points)

Faith Atkins
Silver, 100m
Bronze, shot put

Ontea Gates
Gold, 100m
Fourth, long jump

Ella Krajewski
Sixth, 100m
Gold, long jump

Anthony McKenna
Sixth, 100m
Fifth, shot put

Elias Norton-Rivera
Bronze, long jump
Fourth, 400m

Jessalyn Peters
Bronze, 400m run

Thomas Ruiz
Silver, 100m
Silver, shot put

Haden Williams
Bronze, 100m
Gold, shot put

Silver, 4×100 Unified relay (Ontea Gates, Ella Krajewski, Jessalyn Peters, Haden Williams)

2022 USA Games Profiles: Jordan Schubert

This is Jordan Schubert.

Jordan is a Special Olympics Pennsylvania athlete and also a Special Olympics Pennsylvania staff member. He’s our Manager of Athlete Leadership & Young Athletes.

This is his first Special Olympics USA Games and yesterday he scored 12 points to lead his basketball team to a 39-18 win against North Dakota.

We caught up with Jordan to ask him about the game, the experience and life in general. Here’s what he said:

“I felt like it was everything I thought of and more. I was a little nervous but as soon as we got inside [the arena], I sat down and closed my eyes for a bit and tried not to think about anything. Tried not to look around. Just look at the court I was playing on and focus on one thing at a time. I’ve been hot and cold a lot, especially without having played many games in two years. The thing I pride myself on more than my shooting is my defense. When that works my offensive game will take care of itself. …

[Jordan held up 10 fingers to the crowd after his fifth bucket] That’s how I tell people that I reached double digits. I started doing it as a tribute to Ron Santo. Growing up a Cubs fan, he was always one of my inspirations how he struggled with diabetes but worked hard every day to be the great baseball player he was. I just also want to thank my coaches. They’re a big reason why we’re here. They push us to do better each day. …

I think any athlete that pursues a leadership opportunity, they’re first and foremost an athlete. I’m very fortunate with my work that they allow me to compete. It’s well worth it and, if anything, I’ve made a lot of friends because of it that I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t work for SOPA. …

I’m always interested in hearing what people like to do, where they’re from, their stories. That’s part of my job, just hearing how people got involved and what Special Olympics means to them. But I also think it means a great deal to be here with people after two years of not having anything. This is significant.”

#ShineAsOne | #TeamPA

2022 Sheetz Family Award of Excellence Winner: Brendan Rooker

Please help us in congratulating this year’s Sheetz Family Award of Excellence winner, Brendan Rooker from Lycoming County

The Sheetz Family Award of Excellence recognizes the athlete whose determination and effort can only be understood by the power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles and inspire greatness.

This year, despite training all season to compete in swimming, Brendan graciously offered to switch to basketball when he saw that his county would not be able to field a team without him. Despite not knowing much about the sport, Brendan trained hard, learned the game and supported his teammates in every possible way. His selflessness, dedication to his team and desire to always leave it out in the court is why Brendan was selected for this prestigious award.

Special thanks to Daillard Paris, Jr., Special Olympics Pennsylvania Board member and Director of Supply and Trading at Sheetz for presenting this award and for all he does to support our athletes!

Congratulations Brendan!

#InclusionRevolution