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 jschubert@specialolympicspa.org 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: https://specialolympicspa.org/virtual-summer-games

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS!

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 bit.ly/2020VSGSports
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 bit.ly/2020VSGResults
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 bit.ly/2020VSGVideos]! 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! bit.ly/2WP0qN1

Special Olympics Pennsylvania: March Madness 2020 Champions

Ladies & gentlemen, we are proud to introduce your 2020 SOPA MARCH MADNESS CHAMPION…

๐’๐๐Ž๐‘๐“๐’ ๐‚๐€๐Œ๐!!!! ๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ…

Cinderella is dancing!! The No. 7 seed has done it and shocked the field!! Not only did Sports Camp take down top-seeded Summer Games in the Final Four but then defeated No. 1 Fall Festival in yesterday’s championship. An incredible total of 1,084 people voted and the final tally was 762-322 in favor of our champs!

We can’t thank everyone enough for their support of ALL our amazing Special Olympics programs throughout the state. The was an incredible tournament and we hope you had as much fun voting as we did watching the results flow in!
Be sure to stay tuned for more awesome stuff coming your way as we all continue to stay active and stay together as one big Special Olympics Pennsylvania family!

Special Olympics Pennsylvania: March Madness 2020, Round II

Can you believe we’ve already powered through EIGHT matchups in our OFFICIAL Special Olympics Pennsylvania March Madness Bracket! ๐Ÿ™Œ

Check out the updated bracket below and check back frequently for updates on all the voting!

Matchup 9: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ v. ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ‘ ๐€๐ญ๐ก๐ฅ๐ž๐ญ๐ž ๐‹๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ก๐ข๐ฉ ๐”๐ง๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: The top seed in its region, Summer Games is our organization’s oldest event. Beginning at West Chester University of PA in 1970, Summer Games now takes place annually at Penn State and celebrated its 50th Anniversary last summer. Our largest event of the year, Summer Games brings together more than 2,000 athletes and 750 coaches from throughout the state. Athletes compete across three days in eight sports: aquatics, athletics, basketball, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, softball and tennis.

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ‘ ๐€๐ญ๐ก๐ฅ๐ž๐ญ๐ž ๐‹๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ก๐ข๐ฉ ๐”๐ง๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ: The goal of Athlete Leadership is to empower athletes to develop leadership skills and utilize their voices and abilities to assume meaningful leadership roles, influence change within the Special Olympics movement, and create inclusive communities around the world. Training to Athlete Leaders is offered three times a year to further their knowledge base and provide certification in the following: Communications (public speaking), Governance (Special Olympics spokespersons), Health (Health & Fitness Coordinators) and Sports (coaches).

RESULTS: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ defeats ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ‘ ๐€๐ญ๐ก๐ฅ๐ž๐ญ๐ž ๐‹๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ก๐ข๐ฉ ๐”๐ง๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ, 243-49

Matchup 10: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ’ ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐  ๐€๐ญ๐ก๐ฅ๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ v. ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ’ ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐  ๐€๐ญ๐ก๐ฅ๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ: Young Athletes is an innovative sports play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities ages 2 to 7. The program includes active games, songs, and other play activities that help children develop motor, social and cognitive skills. Young Athletes serves as an entry point into our sports programs, acting as a key means of recruiting the โ€œnext generationโ€ of SOPA athletes.

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ: In 1978, Ken and Anthony Yazge met with former SOPA President Frank Dean to see how their church could benefit the athletes of Special Olympics. The creation of a week-long sports training camp stemmed from that meeting and Sports Camp at Antiochian Village has taken place every August since. The camp offers cross-training opportunities in the following sports: aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, flag football, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball as well as bonding opportunities that last a lifetime.

RESULTS: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ (278) defeats ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ’ ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐  ๐€๐ญ๐ก๐ฅ๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ (138)

Matchup 11: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ v. ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ‘ ๐”๐ง๐ข๐Ÿ๐ข๐ž๐ ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ: Special Olympics Pennsylvaniaโ€™s Fall Festival is hosted and organized by Villanova University students and is the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world. For one weekend each year for the last 31 years, Villanova Special Olympics Fall Festival opens its campus to more than 1,000 athletes and coaches and 6,000 volunteers from the Villanova Student Body, surrounding community, and corporations. Athletes compete in a total of six Olympic-type sports including bocce, long distance running, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ‘ ๐”๐ง๐ข๐Ÿ๐ข๐ž๐ ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ: Introduced in the mid-1980s, Unified Sports creates an opportunity for people without intellectual disabilities to join in the sports experience by playing on a team with athletes with intellectual disabilities. Not only do the players compete hard, but attitude change and transformation happens on the playing field and the experiences create lifelong friendships. Unified Sports combines approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics Athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (Partners) on sports teams for training and competition, which in turn promotes equality and inclusion.

RESULTS: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ defeats ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ‘ ๐”๐ง๐ข๐Ÿ๐ข๐ž๐ ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ, 203-112

Matchup 12: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ’ ๐๐จ๐ฅ๐š๐ซ ๐๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฌ v. ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐ˆ๐ง๐๐จ๐จ๐ซ ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ’ ๐๐จ๐ฅ๐š๐ซ ๐๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฌ: The Polar Plunge is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations, and businesses to support local Special Olympics athletes by jumping or running into icy cold waters. Plunge participants take a quick dip in a river or pool to raise funds. There are nine Plunge locations across the state as individuals from all walks of life come together to be “Freezin’ for a Reason.” This February, SOPA broke the state fundraising record at the Pittsburgh Plunge, which raised more than $500k for athletes in Pennsylvania!

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐ˆ๐ง๐๐จ๐จ๐ซ ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: Our newest statewide event, the Indoor Winter Games held their inaugural event in 2019 in York, Pennsylvania. With a hub at the York Expo Center, Indoor Winter Games welcomes more than 950 athletes and coaches who compete in bowling, figure skating, floor hockey and speed skating. While this year’s Indoor Winter Games were cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, our time in York remains incredible and we’re very much looking forward to next year’s event!

RESULTS: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐ˆ๐ง๐๐จ๐จ๐ซ ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ defeats ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ’ ๐๐จ๐ฅ๐š๐ซ ๐๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฌ 151-111

LADIES & GENTLEMEN, THE FINAL FOUR IS SET!!

SOPA March Madness: Final Four:
๐Ÿ”น ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ
๐Ÿ”น ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ
๐Ÿ”น ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ
๐Ÿ”น ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐ˆ๐ง๐๐จ๐จ๐ซ ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ

Matchup 13: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ v. ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: The top seed in its region, Summer Games is our organization’s oldest event. Beginning at West Chester University of PA in 1970, Summer Games now takes place annually at Penn State and celebrated its 50th Anniversary last summer. Our largest event of the year, Summer Games brings together more than 2,000 athletes and 750 coaches from throughout the state. Athletes compete across three days in eight sports: aquatics, athletics, basketball, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, softball and tennis.

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ: In 1978, Ken and Anthony Yazge met with former SOPA President Frank Dean to see how their church could benefit the athletes of Special Olympics. The creation of a week-long sports training camp stemmed from that meeting and Sports Camp at Antiochian Village has taken place every August since. The camp offers cross-training opportunities in the following sports: aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, flag football, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball as well as bonding opportunities that last a lifetime.

RESULTS: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ (505) defeats ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ (301)

Matchup 14: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ v. ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐ˆ๐ง๐๐จ๐จ๐ซ ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ: Special Olympics Pennsylvaniaโ€™s Fall Festival is hosted and organized by Villanova University students and is the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world. For one weekend each year for the last 31 years, Villanova Special Olympics Fall Festival opens its campus to more than 1,000 athletes and coaches and 6,000 volunteers from the Villanova Student Body, surrounding community, and corporations. Athletes compete in a total of six Olympic-type sports including bocce, long distance running, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐ˆ๐ง๐๐จ๐จ๐ซ ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: Our newest statewide event, the Indoor Winter Games held their inaugural event in 2019 in York, Pennsylvania. With a hub at the York Expo Center, Indoor Winter Games welcomes more than 950 athletes and coaches who compete in bowling, figure skating, floor hockey and speed skating. While this year’s Indoor Winter Games were cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, our time in York remains incredible and we’re very much looking forward to next year’s event!

RESULTS: ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ (189) defeats ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐ˆ๐ง๐๐จ๐จ๐ซ ๐–๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐†๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ (113)

Matchup 15 (Championship): ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ v. ๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ ๐…๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐…๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ: Special Olympics Pennsylvaniaโ€™s Fall Festival is hosted and organized by Villanova University students and is the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world. For one weekend each year for the last 31 years, Villanova Special Olympics Fall Festival opens its campus to more than 1,000 athletes and coaches and 6,000 volunteers from the Villanova Student Body, surrounding community, and corporations. Athletes compete in a total of six Olympic-type sports including bocce, long distance running, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.

๐๐จ. ๐Ÿ• ๐’๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ: In 1978, Ken and Anthony Yazge met with former SOPA President Frank Dean to see how their church could benefit the athletes of Special Olympics. The creation of a week-long sports training camp stemmed from that meeting and Sports Camp at Antiochian Village has taken place every August since. The camp offers cross-training opportunities in the following sports: aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, flag football, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball as well as bonding opportunities that last a lifetime.