Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Paul Bettendorf

#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.”

Loretta Claiborne to receive honorary degree, speak at York College commencement

There aren’t many things left, accolades-wise, for York County’s Loretta Claiborne to accomplish. But come Dec. 18, you can add a third honorary doctorate to the list.

Loretta will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from York College of Pennsylvania and will speak to the nearly 300 graduates at the College’s commencement ceremony.

The program will begin at 10:15 a.m. in the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center’s M&T Field House. Associate Professor of Chemistry Jessica Fautch, recipient of the Presidential Award for Teaching and Mentoring Excellence, will also address the audience.

To read the full release regarding Loretta’s next adventure, follow this link.

Lycoming County athletes create inaugural Memorial Walk/Run

This June, the Lycoming County Athlete Leadership Team, led by Fitness Coordinator Stephen Huyck, proposed the idea of holding a walk/run to memorialize those athletes and coaches within their program who have passed away.

After the Athlete Leadership Team received approval from the Management Team to go forward with the event, they began planning. Every detail was meticulously orchestrated, beginning with researching and inviting all the friends and families of those who have passed away.

The team also organized he flower arrangements, displayed newspaper articles featuring the deceased, designed and distributed flyers to promote the event, ordered “SO Remembering 6/23/19” bracelets and conceptualized a “Lap of Silence” where all participants circled the track in silence, reflecting on their thoughts.

“Most people become busy with their lives and do not take the time to stop and remember those who have impacted them. The athletes wanted to not only remember these people, but to memorialize them, reminding us that our athletes are the type of people that we should all strive to be.” 

– Marc Follmer, Lycoming County Manager

As a result of this event, the athletes were empowered as leaders and felt a great sense of pride in giving back to the community. Additionally, several athletes gave speeches about the purpose of the event and what Special Olympics means to them. After a very successful inaugural campaign, Lycoming County Special Olympics is now considering making this a yearly event.

Healthy Athletes tent

Philadelphia athlete speaks on panel at Jefferson University

Note: The following is from the Special Olympics Fall Panel Evaluation Report provided by Allison R. Casola, PhD, MPH, CHES – Department of Family and Community Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University.

On October 17, 2019, Dr. Mary Stephens organized a student event at Thomas Jefferson University to promote involvement and volunteer opportunities with Special Olympics Pennsylvania. During the event conversations surrounding the multitude of volunteer opportunities available with Special Olympics, the importance of Special Olympics for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) both during and outside of competitions, and the sense of community engagement Special Olympics can provide for individuals with IDD and their families ensued.

Philadelphia athlete leader John Mitchell speaks on the panel at Jefferson University.

The program was part of the National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine (NCIDM) efforts. John Mitchell, and athlete leader from Philadelphia, and SOPA’s Director of Programming Projects at spoke to roughly 60 Jefferson students, medical residents, faculty, and community members as part of the educational event.

Also discussed were barriers that persons with IDD face when it comes to seeking medical care, and possible strategies to maximize healthcare and provider-related experiences for persons with IDD and their families.

The program was part of the National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine (NCIDM) efforts. John Mitchell, and athlete leader from Philadelphia, and SOPA’s Director of Programming Projects at spoke to roughly 60 Jefferson students, medical residents, faculty, and community members as part of the educational event.

To read the full report from Dr. Casola, follow this link.

Troy Jackson’s Healthy Lifestyles story

Note: This entry was published in the Summer 2019 Edition of the Special Olympics Athlete Review (SOAR) newsletter.

By Troy Jackson

I’ve been involved with Special Olympics for the past 14 years and have enjoyed every moment of it. Two years ago, I happened to get an e mail with a newsletter called SOAR. When I first opened it, I saw some amazing stories from other athletes whose accomplishments on and off the field empowered them to accomplish other great things within their community.

As soon as I finished reading SOAR, I immediately started typing up a story for the next edition. In that story, I talked about my athletic accomplishments and how Special Olympics has helped me develop a positive mindset, eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis. Shortly after I submitted my story, I found out that there was a position for athletes like me that were interested in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The name of the training I went through was called “Healthy Lifestyles,” which then allowed me to become a Health and Fitness Coordinator. I’ve had amazing experience as a Health and Fitness Coordinator by leading Healthy Habits discussions, organizing health and fitness clubs and helping my fellow athletes set personal sports and fitness goals.

In the last 14 years, I’ve made several new friends and look forward to many great opportunities down the road!

– Troy Jackson, Bucks County

As a result of my accomplishments locally, I then got the opportunity to instruct Healthy Lifestyles at Athlete Leadership University the last two years. After continuing with my practicum, I then got to graduate with a degree in health during the Athlete Leadership University graduation ceremony. The same weekend, I also became trained as a global messenger so I can tell even more people about my accomplishments and how Special Olympics can empower them to live a healthier lifestyle.

Additionally, this is also my first year coaching for flag football. I feel the skills I have picked up as a Health and Fitness Coordinator will help me greatly so that other athletes can achieve their personal bests! In the last 14 years, I’ve made several new friends and look forward to many great opportunities down the road!

Troy Jackson is an Athlete Leader from Bucks County and has been participating in Special Olympics for 14 years. Troy is a member of the Athlete Leadership University Class of 2019. Outside of Special Olympics, Troy enjoys practicing martial arts and cooking.