Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Moments of 2019

The things that Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes, coaches and volunteers have accomplished in 2019 are nothing short of sensational.

And so as we take time to savor these final few hours of the year and look ahead to 2020, we want to share our list of Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Moments of 2019.

We’re releasing half the list today (Nos. 6-10) and will publish the top five moments tomorrow as you prepare to ring in the new year!

As always, we can’t thank you enough for all of your support. We truly wouldn’t be able to do what we do without you. So without further ado…


10) Michael “Money” Maker announces Steelers Draft Pick: The NFL Draft is an exciting time for any sports fan, but this year was particularly meaningful for Mike “Money” Maker, SOPA Vice President of Development Kraig Makohus and Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, who were all on stage to announce the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 5th-round pick (141st overall) in this year’s Draft. Complete with ESPN coverage and a scrolling bottom line.

9) Union Unified team scores a huge victory: This year’s version of the MLS Exchange Game took a local rivalry to new heights as our Philadelphia Union Unified team traveled up the New Jersey Turnpike to take on the New York Red Bulls. After attending a training session and meeting the Union players and coach Jim Curtin in August, the team was ready to take the field for their Sept. 22 match. On an absolutely beautiful afternoon for soccer in Harrison, NJ, the Union Unified team jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead before holding on for a thrilling 3-2 win.

8) SOPA announces Center for Inclusive Leadership: Announced at this year’s Fall Festival at Villanova University, The Center for Unified Leadership will serve as a “center of excellence” for Special Olympics’ leader development efforts including research to foster a deeper understanding of how individuals with intellectual disabilities lead. The Center will also develop and review curricula, tools and training. This marked the first step in a collaboration with Special Olympics International, which will include a network of similar hubs all over the world based on further partnerships with universities, businesses, foundations and thought leaders interested in promoting inclusive leadership.

7) Ernie Roundtree runs the Boston Marathon: Every day we’re continually amazing by what our athletes accomplish. And Monroe County‘s Ernie Roundtree (who also happens to be a SOPA Board Member) qualifying for — and running — the Boston Marathon might just top them all. Ernie is an incredible long-distance runner and despite aches and pains throughout his body over the course of a grueling 26.2 miles, he finished what is arguably the most prestigious marathon in the world last April in 6 hours and 26 minutes.

6) SOPA Hall of Fame welcomes four new members: At this year’s Leadership Conference at Penn State University, not only did 15 Athlete Leaders earn degrees from Athlete Leadership University, but four individuals (two athletes and two volunteers) were inducted into the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. Congratulations to Nina Kaneriya, Corey Markle, Bellamarie Bregar and Herb Packer on their incredible achievements within and outside the world of sport.

… That’s all for now, but be sure to check back tomorrow for Nos. 1-5!

Special Olympics PA athletes spend time with Rodney McLeod

Last Friday, a group of Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes got to spend time with Philadelphia Eagles safety Rodney McLeod at the team’s training complex in South Philadelphia as part of an event with the Hometown Foundation/Dream Ride.

In addition to eating lunch and chatting with Rodney, the athletes went on a tour of the locker room, got to hold the Super Bowl LII trophy and wear the championship ring.

Bedford athletes take part in Subaru commercial shoot

On Tuesday morning, a group of long-distance running/walking athletes from Bedford County participated in a commercial & photo shoot for Thomas Chevy-Subaru! The dealership has picked Special Olympics Pennsylvania as its non-profit organization of choice for their “Share the Love” event where, if you purchase or lease a new Subaru between now and Jan. 2, Subaru will donate $250 to Bedford’s program and Thomas Subaru of Bedford will donate an additional $50!

Several athletes began the day with stretching before posing on the track, taking professional photos and modeling in front of a brand new car!

Check out these phenomenal photos from Stover Photography!

You can also check out some behind-the-scenes photos from the day below.

#InclusionRevolution #ShareTheLove

Flag Football teams take gold at NIRSA Regionals

Over the weekend, two of our flag football teams won championships in their respective divisions at the NIRSA (National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association) Flag Football Regionals at the University of Maryland.

The Monroe Bears and Montgomery County Hammers took to the field for a weekend of stiff competition in very cold temperatures and both came out victorious!

In addition to winning team trophies, Monroe County’s Antoyne Perry won individual gold in the kicking competition and Montgomery County’s Shawn Loweree won individual gold in the punting competition.

Congratulations to all of the athletes and coaches who represented Special Olympics Pennsylvania in such a fantastic way!

Photo credit: Taraz Crowley & Joe Terriman