My IUS story has been nothing less than amazing. During my junior year of high school, the Butler Area School District decided to become involved in the Unified Bocce program. I was hesitant to join at first. I was nervous about interacting with the students with disabilities, not to mention that I had no clue how to play bocce. Despite my doubts, I decided to join the team anyways and couldn’t be happier that I did. In fact, I enjoyed my first year of bocce so much that I decided to play again my senior year.
These two short seasons were full of so many amazing memories. One of my favorite memories involves creating catch phrases for the game. For example, our one teammate would always yell, “Cut it ouutttttt”, each time one of the bocce balls hit the back wall. His energetic tone soon became contagious and this phrase became a saying that the whole team would repeat. It was a cool way to let loose and have fun at our practices. It even became an award that we would give away at our banquet, called the “Cut It Out Kenny Award.”
On the team, we recognized that we are all unique individuals with special talents to contribute. It was never a division between “us” and “them,” it was just us.
Faith Kaltenbach, on her Unified Bocce team
The memories of these seasons extended beyond the court and into the halls of our school. I think that everyone on my team would agree that the best part about bocce was the people who we played it with. Each player had a nickname that reflected something unique about them. We did not limit these nicknames to the game, but referred to each other by these names in the halls, usually greeting each other with a high five. These simple gestures broke down the walls of separation in our school. It showed people that the students with disabilities were no different from those without disabilities. On the team, we recognized that we are all unique individuals with special talents to contribute. It was never a division between “us” and “them,” it was just us.
We, as one team, worked together to do one thing….to win! I am now a freshman in college and have the opportunity to referee at the bocce games. I was not hesitant at all to accept this opportunity. To me, being a referee is a way to stay involved in the program and advocate for inclusive sports within the school setting. This program is important to me as it shows that students with disabilities don’t need to be separated. Seeing the changes that IUS has made in my high school is incredible. It destroyed barriers and spread the word of inclusion, opening doors for other inclusive clubs and activities. My IUS story isn’t over yet, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is a proud sponsor of Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s IUS program.
On Friday at the Philadelphia Polar Plunge — and with the help of some very charismatic guests — we selected seven athletes from Pennsylvania to participate in Special Olympics USA Team Trials for the opportunity to compete at the Special Olympics World Winter Games: Sweden 2021.
Check out our Facebook Live video to watch as the athletes’ names were selected by seven of the best mascots around!
The athletes who were selected are as follows:
Brooks Trimble, Lancaster County – Alpine Skiing (Novice)
Ricky Eutzy, Area M – Alpine Skiing (Advanced)
Lydia Wert, Beaver County – Alpine Skiing (Novice)
Robert “Bobby” Snively, Blair County – Speedy Skating 2
#50for50: Volume 2 ▪️ Paul Bettendorf ▪️ 53 years old ▪️ Northumberland-Snyder
“My mom saw an ad in the paper and that’s how I got started with Special Olympics. It was good to meet new friends and everybody was real nice when I started. My first sport was powerlifting and I do the bench and I deadlift. I’m proud when I do my lift good and I’m just proud to win medals and ribbons. … Right now I do bowling, I do bocce, I swim and I do horseback riding. When I talk to people, they say, ‘good job, keep doing it.’ My doctor, he told me to keep doing it. If I quit, my legs are going to get a lot worse. He just said, ‘keep doing it.’ I have CP [cerebral palsy] and he just don’t want my legs to get worse. Usually horseback riding helps. They said it’s like therapy on the horses. The first time I got on a horse I was a little nervous, but this horse is real good with me. … My mom [Martha] is my Unified Partner in bocce. They started that a couple years ago. At the beginning, they didn’t do Unified, but now they have it. I just like to go and do competitions and state games, stuff like that. I started swimming a couple years ago. Swimming is hard because there’s a lot of different strokes you have to learn, but I like the backstroke. … I’m a Global Messenger and I’m an Athlete Representative. I had to go through training and it was not easy to get through that. But now I have to go out and get more volunteers to come and help Special Olympics.”
Last month, a number of Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes from Area M participated in a clinic with the field hockey teams from Franklin & Marshall, Middlebury, John Hopkins and Salisbury. The teams were at SpookyNook Sports facility for the NCAA Division III Championships and took time out of practice to hang out with the athletes.