2022 USA Games Profiles: Jacob Carey

This is Jacob Carey.

Jacob is a Special Olympics Pennsylvania athlete from Lycoming County who competed in bocce at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.

Throughout three levels of competition (singles, doubles and team) Jacob captured two gold medals and one silver on the sport’s biggest stage.

We took a moment to catch up with Jacob and talk about his sport, his family and his experience in Orlando.

“I’ve been playing bocce for a year now, but I’ve been swimming all my life. When I got into this it was new to me, but I thoroughly enjoy it and I want everybody else to enjoy it. There are probably people who are like, ‘oh, it’s just an old man’s game, there’s nothing to it.’ But if you just see how everybody else is acting, how they like this game, you would cherish it too. …

I’m glad I came here to experience this – not everyone can say that they came to Orlando to participate in the USA Games and say they came out with a gold medal. The match was back and forth, but once I heard ‘one point, red’ and I won the match, it felt invigorating. I felt a sense of euphoria after that. I was just so happy and overjoyed. I just had a smile on my face that I couldn’t get rid of. Even after this is all over and everyone goes home, they’ll remember the days that they were in Orlando for the USA Games. And they should hold onto that with pride and integrity. …

I am a man that wants to see others happy, wants to see others succeed and wants to help. I just want to be that person that people can count on, cry on their shoulder, and know that when things are going bad, there’s always a light at the end of the darkness. …

When it comes to this sport and [Special Olympics], you feel like you are in a special group and a special society, you feel like there are people who care about you when no one else does. Special Olympics has been my family ever since I started this and I would not have it any other way. …

My dad dying in a coma accident was the hardest part [of my life]. It was tough but I managed to overcome it and push forward. I said, ‘I can’t let this depression hold me down and have me be such a downer.’ I was 16 or 17 when he died and I’m 27, going to be 28. When I compete, I dedicate all my matches for swimming and bocce to my dad. And even [in Orlando], I still dedicate all my matches to my dad to this day. …

If I were to see his face right now, he would say that he would be proud of me and that I just should strive on and keep on going, never give up and keep on doing what you’ve been doing. I can’t add anything further to that, just to say that I hope he’s doing well.”

2022 USA Games: Team Pennsylvania Reactions

We’ve got the PERFECT way to start your Monday morning. Seriously.

A while back, we asked everyone to film their friends & family members watching our 2022 Special Olympics USA Games Selection Show in order to capture their reactions in the event they were picked to compete.

Well, now that the Games are two weeks away and Team Pennsylvania is all set to crush it in Orlando, we’re honored to share this video with you. Our athletes and volunteers train so diligently throughout the year and seeing how much this opportunity means to our Special Olympics Pennsylvania family truly brings us as much joy as is expressed in these clips.

Special shoutout Special Olympics Global Ambassador Joe Haden for helping us surprise several athletes — who thought they were attending a boring meeting — via Zoom!

Support Special Olympics athletes in Ukraine

Dear Special Olympics Pennsylvania Family:

Everyone is well aware of the horrific situation unfolding in Ukraine. Pennsylvania has the 2nd largest Ukrainian American community in the United States. I’m sure many of you have wondered how, or even if, you can help. There is now a way you can support Special Olympics athletes in need!

I have been working with the Managing Director for Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia exploring ways we can assist. SOPA is going to form a partnership with the Krasnobrod Center in southern Poland that has been helping refugees with intellectual disabilities fleeing Ukraine. This center is just across the border from the Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Before the pandemic and the war, SO Ukraine had 13,885 athletes. Special Olympics PA has committed to providing $13,885 ($1 for every athlete) to support SO Poland and this center. We are asking the entire SOPA family to join us in “matching” this support by donating whatever you can here: https://bit.ly/3uQc6QC

By working together, we hope to generate up to $27,770 – enough funding to support this center for the next year.

The SOPA family has always been generous and has always stepped up to help other SO Programs in need. You did it when a tornado hit Joplin, Missouri. You did it when an earthquake hit Haiti. And, you did it when Hurricane Sandy devastated SO New York. Now, I’m asking you to do it again to help meet the urgent, acute, and growing needs created by this refugee crisis.

In coming weeks, we will explore additional ways to engage and connect our SOPA athletes and volunteers with the athletes and families at the Krasnobrod Center. For now, financial assistance is the most meaningful way we can help.

Thank you for your generosity,

Matthew B. Aaron

President & CEO, Special Olympics Pennsylvania

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!  

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 don’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!

Aerie x Special Olympics = ❤️

Earlier this month, we were HONORED to have five amazing women & Special Olympics Allegheny County athletes join the Aerie fam in a recent photoshoot!! 📸🤩

Megan Dulski, Kallie McCarthy, Savannah Shavers, Emma Slezak and Kaylie Swider all modeled Aerie’s OFFLINE look in STYLE!! We spent the day at Riverside Park having a blast with the Aerie team, who then sat down with each athlete to hear their stories about what participating in Special Olympics means to them! Read more here: https://bit.ly/3eMMJs

We can’t say enough amazing things about Aerie and their values and mission toward making this world a truly inclusive place!