John Campbell’s weight loss journey

This year at Indoor Winter Games, John Campbell was very proud of himself. He was proud not just because he won a gold medal in bowling but because he had recently lost 150 pounds. John is a Delaware County Athlete. He has participated in Special Olympics Pennsylvania for many years as an athlete, and has volunteered on committees, such as the Fall Festival committee. After taking a few years off from competing during the COVID-19 pandemic, he returned this year to participate in bowling. John plans to participant in softball this spring.

It was last Summer that John decided he needed to change his habits and really started considering the impact his weight had on his health. At the time he weighed 415 pounds. On his own, knowing his family has a history of diabetes and heart disease, he decided to make diet changes and start increasing his exercise. He started by cutting back on portion sizes, he cut back on his intake of extra carbohydrates and increased his fruits and vegetables. He stopped eating late at night and stopped drinking soda and energy drinks and switched to water. John also started going to the gym three times a week. He works in photography where he walks around for many hours and believes those extra steps also helped him in his weight loss journey.

With all those healthy changes to his diet and lifestyle John now weighs 265 pounds. While his weight loss of 150 pounds is a great accomplishment, he knows he has more weight to lose. Johnโ€™s goal is to continue to lose at least another 50 pounds.  

John is drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables and staying fit and active by exercising throughout the week. John is happier, healthier and more fit.

We are so proud of John for his accomplishments and commitment to his health. We hope other athletes are inspired by his story and work towards their own health and fitness goals. We encourage all athletes to talk with their coaches and caregivers about participating in Athlete Performance Training and visiting Healthy Athletes when they are available at events. We know improving your health and fitness not only improves your sports performance, but it can improve your life, and John is an example of that!

Athlete Spotlight: Damian Smith

Meet Damian Smith.

Damian is an athlete from Bradford/Sullivan County and an experienced Long-Distance Runner. Recently, he competed at Special Olympics Pennsylvaniaโ€™s Eastern Fall Sectional and won gold in the 5k and silver in the 1500m. And, as a Global Messenger, he also gave an impassioned speech at Opening Ceremonies. Hear more about his experience in his own words:

โ€œI was introduced to Special Olympics in seventh grade. This year will be seven years Iโ€™ve been doing it. I started running at Sullivan County High School and pretty much kept it up from there. It was difficult at times because of some of the other schools we ran against. Sometimes weโ€™d come out on top, but sometimes weโ€™d get third or last. โ€ฆ

One of the things that Iโ€™m most proud of from being in Special Olympics are the 5k runs I do every year. Because I run long distance, I practice a lot for the long-distance runs. Iโ€™ve been wanting to train for a 10k because of one my teammates that I train with is doing a 10k at Villanova this year. Iโ€™m going to train a lot during the winter for it so that November of next year, I can try doing the 10k. Just to put myself out there. Get noticed more. โ€ฆ

This Global Messenger class that Iโ€™m taking, Iโ€™m actually really liking it. I get to meet new people and make new friends. I learned about impromptu speaking, meaning, if someone comes up to you and asks you about a topic and youโ€™re not really prepared as to what to say, you can just talk about things related to that topic. That was kind of hard for me, because I didnโ€™t really know what to talk about. โ€ฆ

I work at a factory making things with leather. Iโ€™ve been there about four years. Itโ€™s not something I plan on retiring from, but I like my job. I want to work with kids. Being like a Teacherโ€™s Aide. Iโ€™d like to eventually be able to do that and also I thought about working for schools, too. I just plan on sticking around until an opportunity like that comes around. โ€ฆ

I used to always have trouble putting myself out there, trying to make new friends, because I was always quiet and shy. I didnโ€™t talk much. But after putting myself out there and meeting new people, Iโ€™m kind of used to being around large crowds of people. I just enjoy doing Special Olympics and I donโ€™t think I plan on quitting.โ€

Inclusive Health Spotlight: Columbia/Montour Walking Club

We are so proud of our Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes, families and volunteers in Columbia/Montour who have been coming together almost every week to participate in a walking club led by Athlete Leaders. What began as a group of friends walking together in the mall has now become a wonderful addition to their trainings and health and fitness routines. They have found ways to add fun to their weekly walks such as including balloons into their walking to help work on their balance.

They also have enjoyed socializing together after their walks and have even celebrated birthdays together. The have recently moved their walking to the local YMCA. Way to go Columbia/Montour walking club on staying active and fit!

Athlete Leaders, called Health and Fitness Coordinators, can plan and offer year round walking clubs. By offering a club, athletes, unified partners, coaches, families and volunteers have the opportunity to become more healthy and fit where they live, not just at Special Olympics Pennsylvania events. Local and ongoing opportunities are where people will experience a difference in their health and fitness! ย 

If you would like to start a walking club for your local program consider becoming a Health and Fitness Coordinator. Like any Athlete Leader, a Health and Fitness Coordinator must also have a Mentor. If you donโ€™t have a Mentor, please contact Jordan Schubert at as well as your Local Program Manager/Director. Once you have a Mentor, you will then be given instructions on next steps towards becoming a Health and Fitness Coordinator.

Please visit this link for more information!

The Voices of SOPA

During Special Olympics Pennsylvania‘s inaugural Indoor Winter Games in 2019, we took some time to sit down and talk to athletes throughout the event. Even though the 2020 Indoor Winter Games in York were cancelled, we wanted to share these interviews with you now. Below, you’ll find a collection of audio stories, which you can listen to by clicking, as well as portraits of these awesome athletes and their biographical information.

The Faces & Voices of Indoor Winter Games

Name: Kristine Progin
County: Lebanon
Sport: Floor Hockey Coach
Age: 44

“My dad had coached for years… I think that’s why I wanted to coach, because he and my mom had both coached before.”

Kristine Progin, Lebanon County

Name: Donte Vargas
County: Bedford
Sport: Floor Hockey
Age: 22

“We practice spin moves, getting the puck toward the net and we practice passing as well.”

Donte Vargas, Bedford County

Name: Hillary McFadden
County: Area M
Sport: Speed Skating
Age: 36

“When I was 17, I asked if I could do speed skating and they said, ‘no, you can’t do that [because you’re blind]’ and I said, ‘well sure I can. I can do anything I set my mind to.’ So we fought for it.”

Hillary McFadden, Area M

Name: Corey Zentner
County: York
Sport: Figure Skating
Age: 39

“I like my teammates. I try to help them to focus and not mess up. Try to help them do their best.”

Corey Zentner, York County

Name: Chloe Phillips
County: Lancaster
Sport: Swimming
Age: 21

“My goal is to embrace myself to do more, bigger events for public speaking.”

Chloe Phillips, Lancaster County

Name: Russell Green
County: York
Sport: Figure Skating
Age: 41

“[Coach Lin] takes the time in her efforts and she does whatever she needs to do with us… We like being here on Monday nights skating.”

Russell Green, York County

Name: Brandon Daehn & Elizabeth Brown
County: Area M
Sport: Speed Skating
Age: 29 & 22

“I do speed skating, tennis and long-distance walking and running. Summer is the only time I have free time.”

Elizabeth Brown, Area M

Name: Leah Cunningham
County: York
Sport: Figure Skating
Age: 15

“I do hockey and figure skating. I like it, it’s fun and it’s great.”

Leah Cunningham, York County

Name: Gabriel Stern
County: Lebanon
Sport: Floor Hockey
Age: 17

“It really means something to me that I can finally be supported in a place that I can actually call family for once.”

Gabriel Stern, Lebanon County

Announcing the 2020 Virtual Summer Games

We are SO EXCITED to announce the 2020 Virtual Summer Games! This event will offer the opportunity for all of us to come together, capture the spirit of our athletes and volunteers, and share a unique experience even though we can’t physically be in Happy Valley!

Virtual Summer Games is open to EVERY registered athlete and is a safe way for everyone to compete against their friends and peers from across the state. After our athletes have trained and competed from home, we will all come together virtually to celebrate through a series of virtual events taking place on Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, and our website from June, 12 โ€“ 14, 2020.

For all the details, please visit our official Virtual Summer Games website:


๐Ÿญ) ๐—–๐—›๐—ข๐—ข๐—ฆ๐—˜ ๐—ฌ๐—ข๐—จ๐—ฅ ๐—–๐—›๐—”๐—Ÿ๐—Ÿ๐—˜๐—ก๐—š๐—˜๐—ฆ โžก๏ธ
Check out all of the offered challenges and train at home. There are challenges in each of the eight Summer Games sports that we typically offer: Athletics, Basketball, Equestrian, Golf, Gymnastics, Softball, Swimming & Tennis!

๐Ÿฎ) ๐—ง๐—ฅ๐—”๐—œ๐—ก ๐—™๐—ข๐—ฅ ๐—ฌ๐—ข๐—จ๐—ฅ ๐—–๐—›๐—”๐—Ÿ๐—Ÿ๐—˜๐—ก๐—š๐—˜๐—ฆ โžก๏ธ
You can train and submit your scores for up to three (3) events. Keep track of your scores as you go. You have until Sunday, May 31, 2020 to train and submit your results.

๐Ÿฏ) ๐—ฆ๐—จ๐—•๐— ๐—œ๐—ง ๐—ฌ๐—ข๐—จ๐—ฅ ๐—ฅ๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—จ๐—Ÿ๐—ง๐—ฆ โžก๏ธ
Train for all of your events first and keep track of your scores as you go. Fill out the form above you are done training and submit your best event scores. You can also submit a video of yourself practicing or a recording of an encouraging message to share [VIDEO SUBMISSION LINK โžก๏ธ]! All qualifying scores are due by Sunday, May 31, 2020.

Be sure to share all of your training and progress with us using the hashtags #VirtualSummerGames and #WeAreSOPA!

For even more details, check out this comprehensive webinar which will answer all your questions!