Fall Fest Stories: Tamba Mbriwa

In a 7v7 gold medal soccer match at last weekend’s Fall Festival at Villanova University, Berks County and Delaware County were locked in an instant classic. Berks County struck first before Delaware leveled the score at 1-1 on a goal by Eric Augustine. After DelCo took the lead in the second half thanks to Webster Quiah, Berks scored the late equalizer to send the game into extra time.

In the second extra period, in a match that seemed destined for penalty kicks, Tamba Mbriwa made an inspired run through the attacking end. Mbriwa – a first-year player for DelCo after moving from Montgomery County – weaved into the box and chipped a shot that was destined for the goal, but a Berks player threw his hands up to deflect the ball. The referee immediately awarded the Wildcats a penalty kick. With a gold medal on the line, the crowd chanting his name, Mbriwa calmly stepped to the spot, took a deep breath and delivered the kick of his life. Final: 3-2 Wildcats. Gold medal secured.

Hear from Tamba about the match of the weekend, in his own words:

“Honestly, it was a rough game. It was rainy, it was cloudy, but we all came out, we all fought as a team and we came out with the win. I’m blessed to have my family, my teammates. Without my coaches, we wouldn’t be here today. …

Going through my head, honestly, I was like ‘I know what’s happening. I know what happened.’ I fell down and I got up and the referee said, ‘penalty kick.’ And I’m just thinking to myself, ‘wow!’ My coach said ‘take it,’ so I took it and I shot it in. My mind was energized and I was tired. I was a little bit [nervous], but I got it done. My teammates were all behind me 100 percent and I got it done for them and my coaches. …

The training was tough. We come to practice every day, we worked hard on goalie skills, training skills, everything. Our coach, he works our butts off every practice. We came out today and we had fans watching us. Honestly, I’m blessed. It’s a great season and we can’t wait until next year. …

My favorite memory is I get to hang out with the college students and I get to meet new people. And these people around me are pretty cool.”

2022 PHLY Insurance Valor Award Winner: Logan Wismer

Each year during Fall Festival, the Philadelphia Insurance Companies Valor Award is given to an athlete whose effort, determination and sportsmanship embodies the power of the human spirit to overcome challenges and inspire greatness.

We are proud and honored to announce that LOGAN WISMER from Team Northampton is our 2022 Valor Award Winner!

When Logan first entered a powerlifting gym, he could barley stand still, let alone walk. Through a rigorous conditioning routine focused on strength and endurance, Logan was able to make exceptional strides in his posture and balance. Two long years later, Logan competed in a USAPL event for the first time and won gold in the deadlift!

Logan continued to collect hardware, including another gold in deadlift at Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Eastern Fall Sectional, before adding bench press and squats to his repertoire at the Pennsylvania State Coaches Powerlifting Association State Championships, helping his team to a third-place finish!

In addition to his incredible progress and determination in the gym, Logan is also the consummate teammate. There’s never a practice or event that goes by without Logan encouraging his fellow lifters with high fives and fist bumps. He truly embodies everything it means to be a Special Olympics athletes.


Athlete Spotlight: Damian Smith

Meet Damian Smith.

Damian is an athlete from Bradford/Sullivan County and an experienced Long-Distance Runner. Recently, he competed at Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Eastern Fall Sectional and won gold in the 5k and silver in the 1500m. And, as a Global Messenger, he also gave an impassioned speech at Opening Ceremonies. Hear more about his experience in his own words:

“I was introduced to Special Olympics in seventh grade. This year will be seven years I’ve been doing it. I started running at Sullivan County High School and pretty much kept it up from there. It was difficult at times because of some of the other schools we ran against. Sometimes we’d come out on top, but sometimes we’d get third or last. …

One of the things that I’m most proud of from being in Special Olympics are the 5k runs I do every year. Because I run long distance, I practice a lot for the long-distance runs. I’ve been wanting to train for a 10k because of one my teammates that I train with is doing a 10k at Villanova this year. I’m going to train a lot during the winter for it so that November of next year, I can try doing the 10k. Just to put myself out there. Get noticed more. …

This Global Messenger class that I’m taking, I’m actually really liking it. I get to meet new people and make new friends. I learned about impromptu speaking, meaning, if someone comes up to you and asks you about a topic and you’re not really prepared as to what to say, you can just talk about things related to that topic. That was kind of hard for me, because I didn’t really know what to talk about. …

I work at a factory making things with leather. I’ve been there about four years. It’s not something I plan on retiring from, but I like my job. I want to work with kids. Being like a Teacher’s Aide. I’d like to eventually be able to do that and also I thought about working for schools, too. I just plan on sticking around until an opportunity like that comes around. …

I used to always have trouble putting myself out there, trying to make new friends, because I was always quiet and shy. I didn’t talk much. But after putting myself out there and meeting new people, I’m kind of used to being around large crowds of people. I just enjoy doing Special Olympics and I don’t think I plan on quitting.”

SOPA President & CEO Matt Aaron named a 2022 Philadelphia Titan 100

Titan CEO and headline sponsor Wipfli LLP are pleased to announce Matthew B. Aaron, President and CEO of Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA), as a 2022 Philadelphia Titan 100. The Titan 100 program recognizes Philadelphia’s Top 100 CEO’s & C-level executives. They are the area’s most accomplished business leaders in their industry using criteria that includes demonstrating exceptional leadership, vision, and passion.  Collectively the 2022 Philadelphia Titan 100 and their companies employ upwards of 70,000 individuals and generate over $14 billion dollars in annual revenues. This year’s honorees will be published in a limited-edition Titan 100 book and profiled exclusively online. They will be honored at an awards ceremony on September 8th, 2022 and will be given the opportunity to interact and connect multiple times throughout the year with their fellow Titans.

“The Titan 100 are shaping the future of the Philadelphia’s business community by building a distinguished reputation that is unrivaled and preeminent in their field. We proudly recognize the Titan 100 for their successes and contributions. We know that they will have a profound impact that makes an extraordinary difference for their customers and clients across the nation.” says Jaime Zawmon, President of Titan CEO.

As SOPA’s President and CEO, Matt Aaron is responsible for leading a statewide organization providing year-round training and competition in 21 Olympic-type sports for nearly 13,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  SOPA offers more than 500 competition opportunities each year via an amazing network of local programs with more than 6,000 volunteer coaches.  For more than 50 years, SOPA has used the power of sports to transform the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.  But, SOPA is much more than a sports organization. Through its Athlete Leadership programs, athletes receive training and assume meaningful leadership roles where they influence change within the Special Olympics movement and their communities.  SOPA also addresses major disparities in healthcare via its Healthy Athletes program that offers athletes free health screenings in six different disciplines. And, through Unified Sports, SOPA brings together individuals with and without intellectual disabilities as equal teammates which promotes respect and inclusion.  SOPA now has Unified Champion Schools programs in more than 250 schools around the state.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be named a 2022 Philadelphia Titan 100,” says Matt Aaron.  “I look forward to being recognized along with my fellow honorees and using this opportunity to raise awareness about the life-transforming work of Special Olympics.”

Matt will be honored at the Titan 100 awards on September 8th, 2022 at The Drexelbrook located in Drexel Hill, PA. From hosting American Bandstand with Dick Clark to surviving a 1978 fire, the Drexelbrook has changed and evolved for more than 70 years to best suit the community as a private club, hotel, and event center.  This unique cocktail-style awards event will gather 100 Titans of Industry and their guests for an evening unlike anything that exists in the Philadelphia business community.

“On behalf of the partners and associates at Wipfli we congratulate all the Titan100 winners. It’s an honor to recognize this diverse group of leaders in the Philadelphia community. We appreciate the lasting impact each leader has made, and continues to make, in building organizations of significance that in many cases have not only local but national and international reach. Your ingenuity and creativity have set you apart, and the honor of being seen as an industry Titan is richly deserved,” says W. Bradley Baturka, Mid Atlantic Leader and Partner at Wipfli.

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.”