For the first time ever, colleges and universities across the United States are competing in the Special Olympics Virtual College Championship Week presented by ESPN!
Here in Pennsylvania, we have SEVEN schools participating: DeSales, Thomas Jefferson University, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, Saint Francis University, Villanova, and Wilkes University! The teams will compete across a series of 15 challenges that require team members to connect with each other and spread a message of inclusion through social media.
These are Unified teams, meaning people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities will be competing and working toward a common goal together. This awesome event provides an opportunity for these teammates to connect and compete together, building friendships along the way! #SOCollegeChampWeek
Two of Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s biggest supporters — Sheetz and Wawa — have joined forces to help support the 2021 Polar Pop!
In a joyous and unexpected crossover, the two convenience store chains filmed a video to help promote the Pop and each CEO challenged the other to take the Polar Pop! To register for the Pop, visit http://www.papolarpop.org. Check out more from Sheetz and Wawa below:
The news made quite a splash in, well, the news as well as outlets across the state picked up the story. Here are the available links to check out:
When we talk about the #InclusionRevolution, this is EXACTLY what we’re talking about. Seth (from Bethlehem Special Olympics-Pennsylvania) and his family opened a brand new coffee shop — Seth & Co. Special Brew — that provides delicious beverages to its customers and employment opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities, including several Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes! Huge thanks to WFMZ for the awesome story and CONGRATULATIONS to Seth, Desiree & John (his parents) and the entire Special Brew team on this incredible news! We’re so proud and we can’t wait to stop by for a cup!! #ChooseToInclude
Joe is from Montgomery County. He’s 37 years old and was born with a congenital heart defect. He’s has had several open heart surgeries and pacemakers throughout his life.
Since he was young, Joe’s been an active participant in Special Olympics. But 18 months ago, Joe’s health declined severely. Joe needed a heart transplant. Joe’s liver was also significantly compromised and required a transplant as well. To further complicate matters, Joe only has one functioning kidney.
Joe’s family faced the extreme challenge of finding a hospital system willing to list a high-risk patient with Down syndrome on their transplant list. As time was running out, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville expressed interest and agreed to evaluate Joe.
Joe spent four weeks at Vanderbilt in the spring being evaluated. Due to the risk involved, they didn’t feel he was strong enough to survive the transplant and created a plan that Joe needed to follow to improve his candidacy. The plan included a physical therapy program and new medicine, diet and exercises to help make him a good candidate. Joe and his family spent the next several months working out and lifting weights (think Rocky IV in the wilderness) and getting in shape.
In early November, Joe was approved for the procedure and officially listed for a heart & liver transplant on Nov. 9.
On Nov. 25, Joe had successful transplant surgery!!
And while his road to recovery is still long and winding, Joe and his family have decided that doing the Fitness Heptathlon will be part of his rehab to help Joe get back to doing what he loves: competing with Special Olympics!
Since it’s a virtual program, Joe will be able to compete in Nashville along with his best friend, who lives in Pennsylvania.
During recovery, Joe has gotten so many messages and well-wishes from the community as well as members of the Philadelphia Eagles. Joe even received a personalized video from his favorite wrestler: John Cena!
According to his doctors, Joe is the FIRST Trisomy 21 patient in the WORLD to receive a simultaneous heart and liver transplant!