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.
Today, we’re releasing the Top 5 moments and in case you missed Nos. 6-10, you can find them here.
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…
SPECIAL OLYMPICS PENNSYLVANIA
TOP 10 MOMENTS OF 2019
5) The Inaugural Indoor Winter Games: Even though a major snowstorm shortened 48 hours worth of competition into one long, wild day (some gold-medal hockey games didn’t finish until 8 p.m.!) that just added to the unbelievable memory that was the first Indoor Winter Games in York. It was our honor to launch this event in Pennsylvania (which, in addition to floor hockey, includes competition in speed skating, figure skating and bowling) and we’re looking forward to many more successful years to come.
4) Aerie <3’s the #InclusionRevolution: Perhaps no moment better encapsulated the true nature of the #inclusionrevolution than this phenomenal campaign from Aerie, called #AerieREAL. We were honored to have six athletes from Pennsylvania join Special Olympics New York athlete Chelsea Werner, USA gold medalist Aly Raisman and model Iskra for a photoshoot in July. We’re so incredibly proud of Emily, Jessica, Danielle, Hannah, Daijah and Kaitlyn. Click here for photos and bios from the entire campaign.
3) Summer Games turns 50: What began as a small gathering of a little more than 100 athletes at West Chester University in 1970 turned FIFTY this year, and the entire weekend was incredible. Featuring more than 2,000 athletes from every program throughout the state, this year was highlighted by an awesome Opening Ceremonies, Nathan Boyle winning the Sheetz Family Award for Excellence and so many teams and individuals accomplishing their goals.
2) PA athletes shine in Abu Dhabi: Four gold, six silver, one bronze. That was the final medal count for Pennsylvania athletes representing Special Olympics USA at the 2019 World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi. The Clinton County Hawks, one of the more dominant teams in SOPA history, came together to win the gold. Meanwhile, powerlifter Delina Rodrigues set a personal best while capturing the gold in dramatic fashion and Aaron Keller came from behind in the 10000m as part of a furious race to the finish to earn first place. On the tennis court, Valerie Stiffy and Brianna Whorl both earned silver medals in singles and doubles play. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.
1) Izzy wins it at the buzzer: Hopefully by now you’ve seen the unbelievable game-winning layup at Fall Festival by Beaver County athlete Izzy Scialabba, but if you haven’t — watch it and you’ll see why it’s our No. 1 moment of 2019. Not only did Izzy’s bucket win the game for his team in this Unified event with members of Villanova University‘s men’s basketball team, but the play honored his late father. Izzy and his dad, James, were watching the 2018 version of the Unified game from the stands and spoke to each other about how great it’d be to play on that court. Wouldn’t you know it, Izzy was selected to suit up for this year’s game. But, tragically, James lost his long battle against cancer just weeks before this year’s Fall Fest. After making the shot, Izzy was lifted on his teammates’ shoulders and pointed to the sky in remembrance of his dad.
Thank you to everyone for making 2019 so awesome and we absolutely can’t wait to see what kind of memories we create together in 2020!