March 2016

Greetings SOMD Supporter,

When we convene our monthly “all staff” meetings I start the meeting by asking if anyone would like to share a “mission moment”. It serves as a great tool to reinforce the vision and the mission that drives our efforts every day. Given the range of activity that occurs from month to month there is never a shortage of mission moment stories to share. I would like to share a mission moment that occurred at our Winter Games at Whitetail last month.

When David Godoy competes in snowshoeing as part of the Special Olympics Montgomery County (SOMO) Program he uses ski poles to assist him in running his races. When he isn’t on the snowshoe race course, David uses crutches and sometimes a motorized wheelchair to assist his efforts to get around. In snowshoeing David competes in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter and the 4 x 100 meter relay. David inspires everyone he touches to work harder and be better. On the first day of competition David was disappointed by his results in the 100 meter and 200 meter races.

As David tells the story, “Michael Heup saw that I was struggling with the shoes that I was using. They didn’t allow me to use all my abilities.”

Michael Heup and his mom Roxanne confirmed David’s account. Michael told me, “When David ran those first two races, the snowshoe heels were constantly banging together which really slowed him down.”

Roxanne shared with me that on the second day of competition as David prepared to compete in the 400m race, SOMO Snowshoe Coach Bogasky, suggested that David take a look at Michael’s shoes with the future thought of purchasing a new pair to compete in next year. With that suggestion David went over to ask Michael if he could see his shoes.

David explained to me, “I asked Michael if I could see his snow shoes. And Michael said to me – ‘You can use my shoes, I guarantee you that you will be faster.’”

Roxanne was standing next to Michael and David when Michael gave David his shoes for the 400m race. Roxanne remembers the exchange, “As Michael and I watched David at the start of the race David looked over with excitement that told us these shoes were 100% better. Michael took pride in seeing his friend be successful.” The result confirmed what they witnessed, David ran the 400m in 7 min, 53.5 seconds, which was 9 seconds faster than his time trial time…considerably better than the results on Day 1. (See photos at bottom right for highlights from this competition)

Roxanne told me, “As David went to receive his gold medal his Coach told Michael to get up on the stand with him…to share in the moment and Michael did.”

When I asked David to describe his friendship with Michael he told me, “Michael is a true friend. All the generosity that he has in his heart, he does it naturally. He is spontaneous. His mom is the same.”

Sport competition provides athletes an opportunity to mark progress and at the Winter Games with a little help from Michael, David was able to run faster in his 400 m race. Arguably that result qualifies as a mission moment. However, the friendship, respect and sportsmanship demonstrated by these two athletes is a great example of the impact that Special Olympics makes on both our athletes and their communities.  Michael and David showed us all how we should live our lives.

Creating a world where opportunity is not limited by disability,

James C. Schmutz

PS If you have mission moments that you would like to share please email me at


James C. Schmutz
President and CEO

I am pictured here with athlete David Godoy at an Evening with Champions this past December. 

Jake Schaible 

Hometown:  Elkton, MD

Joined Special Olympics: 1991

Sports:  basketball, softball and golf

Excited about: participating in the upcoming State Basketball Tournament.  Also looking forward to softball season and training with his friends.

Wants you to know: He loves the Maryland Terps and is very excited about their success.   

Video link:  click here to meet Jake and hear his message

Upcoming Events


  • State Basketball Tournament:  Hood College, MSD and other locations in Frederick, April 2-3, 2016
  • Unified Team Outdoor Bocce Competition:  Washington College, 5/12/16  
  • Unified Track & Field Championships:  PG Sports & Learning Complex, Hyattsville, May 17-18, 2016
Special Events:

Photo highlights from left to right:  David tries out snow shoes for the first time.  David starts 400 meter race.  David continues to the finish line.  David celebrates with fellow athletes.  David, Michael and Law Enforcement awards presenters share the triumph on the podium where the "shoes" are proudly displayed.

Torch Run Kick-Off:  It's about Hope and Illumination

Pictured here is Colonel Melissa Hyatt, Chief of Patrol Division in Baltimore City

Colonel Melissa Hyatt was the keynote speaker at the recent Torch Run kickoff held on March 16th.  Below are the highlights from her speech.  We just couldn't wait to share her inspirational message with you.  

I begin with a quote from Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Edith Wharton. “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Two words come to mind when I read that quote: hope and illumination.

2015 was a year that most of us won’t soon forget. It was a difficult period for law enforcement across the country.

Many in our profession and a large percentage of an agency filled with proud tradition began to feel more like villains than superheroes. The equilibrium surrounding our profession felt imbalanced, while national and local media painted a negative picture of our city.

While Baltimore struggled in April, our peers in law enforcement across the state and region offered support and assistance, and we saw real glimmers of hope.

In June I began organizing our Baltimore Torch Run and T-shirt sale for the first time.

If the Baltimore Police Department failed at pulling together the Torch Run, it would be another disappointment in an already painful year.

A small team of people came together for the event. I was shocked by the willingness of those from other law enforcement agencies, private corporations, and local businesses to lend their unwavering support to our agency… yet again.   

The Torch Run was magnificent. I was moved by the fact that our police officers and professional staff were smiling – they truly looked happy. As they engaged with the athletes, I saw a light in them that I thought had flickered out.  Click here to read the rest of the story...

Coaches Corner - meet Pam Grosz - 31 years and going strong


Pam Grosz has been a Special Olympics Maryland coach since 1985. Her first experience came when a friend of hers asked her to come out and watch a local competition. Pam shared that she loves all forms of athletics, so she thought this might be fun. Once she was there she said to herself I “really liked this. I want to get involved”. And the rest is history… her story. 

We found Pam at the 2016 SOMD Winter Games where she was coaching the sport of Snowshoe for the Lower Shore delegation. Just one of many sports she had coached over the years. Coach Grosz’s first sport was one of the main sports people attribute to Special Olympics….Track and Field. She has coached so many more including Bowling, Volleyball, Softball, Alpine Skiing, Nordic (XC) Skiing and Soccer.

“I started in soccer skills and then went to state with a (soccer) team. Then I wanted to (coach) a team. Same with Basketball and Softball. I did coach Softball skills at one time. That’s a long time ago. I think that is all of them. I am not sure.”

Pam has achieved a great deal of success coaching at the local level, state level, national and international level.

Most recently she was an assistant soccer coach for the Unified Soccer team from Carroll County that earned a gold medal at the 2014 USA Games in Princeton, New Jersey. We will let Coach Grosz share all of her other experiences.  Click here to read the rest of the story...

Creating Courageous Leaders By Example


Pictured in the photo on the left is Katie Muir and her class.  Pictured in the photo on the right is athlete Candace Whiting

Special Olympics Maryland-Frederick County Athlete Candace Whiting spoke to Miss. Katie Muir’s 4th Grade class at Visitation Academy in Frederick, MD for Spread the Word to End the Word. Miss. Muir had them do a news reporting activity about the ‘event’. They interviewed each other about the following questions…Ms. Muir highlighted some of the student quotes below.

Why did we want an athlete to speak to our class? Why is Spread the Word to End the Word day important to our school?

Visitation Academy does not have a population of people with intellectual disabilities so it was nice to be able to get to know Candace and her story. Several of our students volunteered at the Special Olympics Maryland Fall Fest and were excited to be able to meet with an athlete. It was also a nice surprise that Candace has been taking dance lessons from our school's dance teacher for 21 years! What a small world!

  • “Because even if you don’t have a disability, using the ‘r’ word is not respectful…” -Jill

  • “God made us all equally. It shows that we care about all people, we are all equal.” -Chaltu

What did we learn from Candace? What are our ‘take-aways’?

“She was so confident. I really didn’t notice that she had a disability.” -Megan

“I thought…’wow she's brave.” I was honored to meet her because it was such a big deal to be able to meet an Olympic athlete who has won so many medals!” -Bridget

“Candace did things people thought she couldn’t. She proved people wrong! The fact that she graduated high school and won all of those medals…she stepped up to the challenge people threw at her!” -Bridget

“She had so much courage to come and speak to a group of people and share her story/challenges. She was such a great public speaker too. She kept our attention and was brave in sharing her story.” -Bridget

Click here to read the rest of the story...

MYTH:  Special Olympics Unified Sports® which brings together athletes with intellectual disabilities and athletes without intellectual disabilities (unified teammates) to train and compete on the same team, is only for higher performance athletes of similar ability.

FACT:   The original premise of Special Olympics Unified Sports® when it was introduced by Special Olympics Massachusetts in the mid-1980s was to pair athletes of similar ability to ensure equity among teammates during competition and provide all players a meaningful, respectful experience. Over the years Special Olympics Unified Sports® has evolved to include formats like “Player Development Unified Sports®” where non-Special Olympics athletes are on teams with the defined role of facilitating play. This promotes and provides socially inclusive sport experiences for Special Olympics athletes of a wide range of abilities.

Special Olympics Maryland has extended the concept at the high school level and works with 21 of 24 counties across the state to offer Interscholastic Unified Sports® in five sports covering three seasons.

With your support athletes can focus 
on training and competing, and not
on the cost to participate.

Did you know that an athlete does not pay to participate in Special Olympics? Help transform the life of a Special Olympics athlete through the power of's only a click away!

If you're interested in learning more about this opportunity, please click here.


 Athletes Served  




2013-2014 CHANGE

(+ 2.8%)

(+ 196 athletes)

 Spending Wisely in Maryland 

86% of every dollar raised is spent on sports training and competition, and athlete retention and recruitment.

Click here to see a copy of our current financials


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