SOPA Welcomes Four New Clinical Directors!

Healthy Athletes are non-invasive screenings designed to offer additional support at no cost to our athletes and their families. They are designed to improve athletes’ health and fitness in order to enhance their ability to train and compete in Special Olympics. Each discipline is led by a dedicated volunteer, a Clinical Director, who spends months planning and organizing for the event.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania is thrilled to share that we have expanded our Clinical Director team. The additional Clinical Director volunteers will allow us to offer more healthy Athlete screenings in the coming future and in return help provide much needed health education and care to more athletes.

Each clinician has completed their training required by Special Olympics International to take on this role and we are so grateful for their time and effort. All four new clinicians will be joining us at Summer Games, June 8th-10th at Penn State University.

Dr. Jenni Waters: Special Smiles (dental)

Dr. Waters resides in Allegheny County. She is a pediatric dentist with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She attended Allegheny games last May and most recently Fall Festival this past November. She is also a coach for Allegheny County in multiple sports , but her favorite sport is soccer! Dr. Waters says she “really enjoys working with SOPA, from the athletes to the staff and everyone in between. I love what SOPA stands for: inclusion, acceptance, family, healthy living and support. The athletes are truly amazing, and I love getting to impact their lives in a positive and healthy way.”

Dr. Michelle Sparks: Fit Feet (podiatry)

Dr. Sparks resides in Armstrong County, she is a board certified podiatrist/ foot and ankle surgeon and the owner of Ankle and Foot Care, a private medical practice that specializes in Podiatric medicine and surgery. Dr. Sparks was able to attend Summer Games 2022 and is excited to return this summer. She is excited to be part of our Healthy Athletes program. Dr. Sparks says she is “inspired by the Athletes and the effort they put into their sports. I appreciate the chance to offer them my expertise to support them to be the best they can be, while promoting healthy participation. By offering screenings for potential risk and education, it allows them to focus their energy on performing at their highest.” Dr. Sparks’ favorite SOPA sport is gymnastics, her daughter is a USAG sanctioned gymnast, so she knows how much time and commitment it takes. Which is why she is so impressed seeing our SOPA gymnasts and their success.

Dr. Rebecca Van Dyke: Fit Feet (podiatry)

Dr. Van Dyke currently resides in the Lehigh Valley but will be moving to Dauphin County this July! She is a podiatry fellow currently but will be starting her career as a surgical podiatrist and assistant professor at Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center starting August 1st. She is very excited to get involved with SOPA and looks forward to meeting and engaging with our awesome athletes. She hopes “to do this by providing the best foot and ankle care to allow them to play and have fun pain-free.” Her favorite sport is baseball, and we can’t wait for her to check out the softball games at this year’s Summer Games!

Dr. Sarah Wakefield: Healthy Hearing (audiology)

Dr. Wakefield is located in Centre County. She is a clinical audiologist with Mount Nittany Physician Group ENT. She has previously volunteered with Special Olympics Florida and is thrilled to join our team at SOPA. Dr. Wakefield says she “loves the energy of Special Olympics and getting to share in the excitement that the games bring to the athletes.” Her favorite sport is track and field!

Healthy Athletes will take place at this year’s Summer Games at Penn State University, June 8th-10th. Be sure to stop by to get your free health screenings and meet our wonderful volunteers.