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.”

Athlete Spotlight: Louis Fornataro

Hi my name is Louis Fornataro from Lawrence County I been in special Olympics for 12 years now. I compete bocce, volleyball, basketball and bowling. In the last 6 months I have been doing a lot of stuff with special Olympics. Earlier this year, I was asked to join Lawrence County’s Athlete Leadership Team.

Up until that point, I didn’t know that I had the opportunity to represent my fellow athletes and help make the program better for everyone involved. Shortly after I joined the Athlete Leadership Team, I felt I had the opportunity to make an even bigger impact.

There were two things I really wanted to accomplish. First, I wanted to eventually become Chair of Lawrence’s Athlete Leadership Team. Second, I wanted to become a coach so I could still be active in the sports I love, even if I eventually become physically unable to compete in them. I got to go to Sheetz’s Operations Center, just outside of Altoona a couple times this year to attend two different Athlete Leadership University sessions. The courses were: Athlete Representative I: I got to learn the basics of serving on a committee and solving problems and Athletes as Coaches: I got to learn how to become an effective coach and share my skills and knowledge with my peers.

I never thought that one trip to a bowling alley would lead to 12 years of things I never thought would happen. Now, I’m really excited to accomplish my next goals.

— Louis Fornataro

A couple weeks after my basketball team qualified for Summer Games, I was asked to give the oath at Opening Ceremonies. I was really nervous at first, but it felt great hearing thousands of people cheer me on. I knew if I could speak in front of almost 3,000 people, I could excel more when speaking with smaller groups. My Mentor and I got the honor of instructing the next Athlete Representative I course at Athlete Leadership University. Afterwards, I also got asked to serve on the Games Organizing Committee for the Western Fall Sectional at Slippery Rock, where I know my experience from that event would help the rest of the committee understand what the athletes want.

When you join special Olympics, you get a great opportunity to play any sport and hear your name called when you accomplish something. I got involved because in 2006, I had a good friend that got me told me to go bowling with them. I never thought that one trip to a bowling alley would lead to 12 years of things I never thought would happen. Now, I’m really excited to accomplish my next goals.

Louis Fornataro is an Athlete Representative and Athlete as Coach from Lawrence County and has been participating in Special Olympics for 12 years. Outside of Special Olympics, Louis enjoys going to the movies and hanging out with friends and family.