Special Olympics PA + Finish Line = 😊

This holiday season the Finish Line Youth Foundation is helping Special Olympics athletes be #SOUnstoppable!

And last weekend some of our Montgomery County athletes volunteered at their local Finish Line store, helping customers with questions, bagging items and spreading holiday cheer! 🎁🛍👟

Be sure to visit your local finish line now through December 31 to donate to a great cause!

Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Craig Maurer

#50for50: Volume 4
▪️ Craig Maurer
▪️ 66 years old
▪️ Bethlehem City

“I’m from Easton and I did powerlifting. I lived my whole life in Easton. I’ve been doing Special Olympics for 40 years. But I’m retired now. My last competition was here [at the 2019 Eastern Fall Sectional at DeSales University]. I can’t do it anymore, so I’m retired. Before that, I had to quit swimming and I quit gym because I couldn’t reach the rings anymore. So then I did powerlifting. … Mom made me start it. She said, ‘You start lifting,’ and I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ It’s good. It keeps me healthy. That’s why I got muscles.”

Note: Prior to his retirement, Craig accomplished just about everything a Special Olympics Pennsylvania athlete could hope to accomplish. He represented Special Olympics USA powerlifting at the 2010 World Games in Athens (and was the oldest member of the delegation), he represent Special Olympics Pennsylvania gymnastics at the 2006 USA Games in Iowa and he was inducted into the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 2012.

Special Olympics PA athletes spend time with Rodney McLeod

Last Friday, a group of Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes got to spend time with Philadelphia Eagles safety Rodney McLeod at the team’s training complex in South Philadelphia as part of an event with the Hometown Foundation/Dream Ride.

In addition to eating lunch and chatting with Rodney, the athletes went on a tour of the locker room, got to hold the Super Bowl LII trophy and wear the championship ring.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Jessica Hott

#50for50: Volume 3
▪️ Jessica Hott
▪️ 28 years old
▪️ Bedford County

“I just feel like myself when I run. I feel a lot better. If I skip a few days, I feel like ‘blah.’ I feel like I’m missing out on something. I’ve always trained myself to do it. I’ve done 5Ks for years. In a way, I was a loner, but I just did it for fun. I just went my own way. But when I joined Special Olympics, I got to meet new people and meet coaches who can help you. I’m in better shape now because of it. I’ve met a lot of friends. … Last year was my first year with mini javelin and the first time I competed at Summer Games for track. Before that [at the Central Spring Sectional] I won four gold. It’s exciting, but I don’t brag, really. I just get what I get. … I had always done softball since I joined Special Olympics in 2010 and always loved softball even before that. My sister Liz played [softball] and I take after her. She lives in State College now, but she comes to watch me play. I have made so many friends through Special Olympics. Like Christa and Gina. And Michael and Roland. We go bowling, we go to the movies. … I have a cat, a dog and three horses. I love taking care of them, helping clean the stalls and watching after them. And I also help my mom out in her store in Bedford. Tomorrow I’ll be doing another 5K. I just love to run.”

Linda Pacovsky’s Plunge Story

Take a moment to meet Linda Pacovsky: Cambria County softball and bowling coach.

How many years have you been plunging? Eight years. I have plunged in both Pittsburgh & Central PA. It’s a hoot, so I just keep doing it.

Why do you plunge? Because of the picture you see here:

Pictured front to back: Linda Pacovsky, Michael Weissinger, Jonathan Reynolds, Brian Weissigner, Brent Mallow, Curtis Weller and Dylan Richardson. Also pictured, assistant coach Brad King far back.

Last spring, Cambria County had their first softball team in 20 years. Linda negotiated field time and borrowed equipment to hold practices. However, at the end of the day, she did not have enough money to buy softball uniforms. So her team wore basketball uniforms to play that first year. And the uniforms were unbelievably hot and not breathable.

Despite that, the team won gold in Division 2 softball during Summer Games at Penn State University.

What got you into coaching? A conversation with another Central Pennsylvania coach. She said that they needed the help, so I thought why not. And now, Linda has no idea why she would stop. She enjoys it so much and sees the impact it has on the athletes.

Linda said that her favorite aspect of coaching is being around the athletes every day and watching their development week after week during practices. She is in awe of the determination her athletes have. The softball team mentioned above had to start from scratch and had varying degrees of knowledge. Some of them didn’t know how to run the bases when they first met and others could hit like a pro. They worked in the cold, in the rain, in the heat and in the end came away with the gold.