April 2016

Greetings Supporter,

For those of you who may conclude (based on the abundance of bad and pessimistic news with which you are presented daily) that there is no joy in Mudville, I would like to share with you a story of optimism and joy that shines a light on what makes America great. My experience at the United States Naval Academy on April 23rd and 24th reinforces the fundamental and obvious truth that America’s greatness comes from its people, people who take the time to get to know others. In particular, greatness comes from those among us who demonstrate a fundamental respect for all, that leads to interactive engagement from which personal awareness and growth is achieved. People who engage with our athletes invariably can tell the date, location and event/activity of their transformational Special Olympics moment. When given the chance, our athletes bring out the best in people.

On Saturday, April 23rd over 130 Special Olympics Maryland swimmers competed in a Summer Games qualifying meet at the Naval Academy’s Scott Natatorium in MacDonough Hall. On Sunday nearly 300 athletes including a delegation from Virginia competed in qualifying competitions for track and field and bocce. That’s more than 400 Special Olympics athletes enjoying a first class sport experience all thanks to group of people who volunteered considerable time and effort to make it happen. 

Gregg Meade is the Anne Arundel County “Area Director” responsible for leading the management team that oversees the year-round programming for all Anne Arundel County athletes. Greg coordinates efforts with the USNA to make this event happen. Gregg relies on a lot of help from many other volunteers including his wife Martha who always works closely with Gregg to ensure high quality experiences for their athletes including their son Nicholas.

The Naval Academy has hosted the event for over 40 years which results from a considerable commitment from people like USNA Community Relations Director, Meriam Stanicic, who works with Gregg to ensure that all the logistics of running an event of this magnitude are covered. Janice Lynn Rice serves as an additional resource working with the Midshipmen Action Group (MAG) to organize the two days of competition. Midshipman 2nd Class Michael Ross, was the MAG project leader in charge of staging the event. Additionally Midshipman 2nd Class David Larkin worked closely with Midshipmen Ross to help ensure year over year continuity, as David will lead the MAG Team for next year’s event. Midshipmen Ross and his team ensured that over 300 other midshipmen got to experience our Special Olympics athletes by creating one on one assignments where they escorted athletes to and from events and then interacted with them between events throughout the day.

The Annapolis Jaycees also play a vital role in managing key elements of the competition. Jaycees leaders like Christina Gutierrez and Cory Cosgrove exemplify the commitment of a large group that is out in force on both Saturday and Sunday. Students like Charlie Snyder and Nate Skorepa from the Severn School also volunteered at the event.

Pride and joy are the two emotions that were most universally expressed during that weekend by those who volunteered. The athletes were energized by the opportunity to compete at such a great venue, motivated to make their midshipmen proud and grateful for having made a new friend. Parents, who play a vital and important role in getting their athletes to and from practice and competitions like this were appreciative of the respect and attention imparted on their athletes. Coaches were enthusiastic about the quality of the venues and organization of the competition by the volunteers. During the Opening Ceremony on Sunday at the track, I had the chance to speak with the USNA Superintendent, Vice Admiral Walter Carter and his wife Lynda. They both shared how proud they were to be part of the event and of the efforts of the midshipmen. The Naval Academy stood tall for our athletes.

Our athletes are the reason that all these people work so hard. So as we continue to pursue our vision to have 20,000 active athletes by 2025 and strive to achieve our core purpose of using sport to create a world where opportunity is not limited by disability, we know that our success depends largely on continued leadership from our athletes to connect with and motivate non-Special Olympics athletes to show up and engage. Our athletes bring out the very best in those with whom they interact, leading our volunteers and supporters to ask, “How can I help you achieve your vision? What more do you need to support your athletes?”

So, if you have never volunteered I urge you to give it a try and click here to learn more about our year-round opportunities. And if you have volunteered, I urge you to share “your” story with your friends. I would also like to hear from you, so tell me “your” story (send me an email –jschmutz@somd.org). With continued help and support from people like you, we will raise more awareness, raise more money, provide more competitions and reach more athletes.


PS Click here to read the Capital Gazette’s account of the event

Creating a world where opportunity
is not limited by disability,      

James C. Schmutz
President and CEO

Pictured above is the Naval Academy Band leading the athletes in the Opening Ceremonies parade at the Anne Arundel County Spring Games held on April 23rd-24th. 

Michelle Deniston

Hometown: Waldorf, MD

Joined Special Olympics: 1983

Sports: Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Golf, Skiing, Swimming, Table Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball

Excited about: Competing in the upcoming Unified Team Outdoor Bocce Competition

Wants you to know: When I was about 9 years old, I was competing in Track & Field at Towson University for Maryland State Games. Channel 4 Wide World of Sports picked me to film while I was running. They made a story about me and my family and Special Olympics, and I was on TV. Even my family in California got to see me. 

Video link: Click here to meet Michelle and hear her message

Upcoming Events


  • 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:

Thank You, Volunteers!

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and while we appreciate our volunteers every month of the year, we want to take this opportunity to say thank you! Special Olympics Maryland is able to support 7,311 athletes in year-round training and competition because of the tireless energy and dedication of our volunteers. In fact, in 2015 6,031 individuals across the state donated their time and talents to our athletes, and we are proud to have them as part of our Special Olympics family! Looking back over the past year of activity, it is impossible to capture the full range of all that our volunteers do in support of our program, but some highlights include:

  • Our Local Leadership representing each county, ensuring a well-organized program can reach all areas of the state. 
  • The full roster of coaches, assistant coaches, and sport coordinators, who provide instruction, mentoring, and opportunities for athletes to learn and improve each week.
  • Members of State and Local Law Enforcement and Explorers Program, who volunteer their time to organize the Law Enforcement Torch Run, present medals to our athletes at competitions, and who helped remove the large amount of snow from Sandy Point State Park in preparation for the 2016 Polar Bear Plunge.
  • Corporate Volunteers from companies like Aerotek, Coca-Cola, Nielsen, and Finish Line, who embody their company's commitment to making a positive impact in the community.
  • Community Organizations like the Knights of Columbus, America Legion, Sons of the American Legion, The Auxiliary, The Lion's Club, The Rotary, Clipped Wings, and many scout troops who are always willing to be good neighbors in support of our athletes.
  • School Partnerships with Universities and K-12 Schools, who choose to engage their students in meaningful service-learning with Special Olympics Maryland.
  • Games Management Teams, Sport Management Teams, and State Committee Members whose work behind the scenes throughout the year ensures high-quality events and competitions.
  • ALPs Mentors who help hone public speaking skills and perfect presentations, so our athlete leaders can advocate for their own programs.
  • Office Volunteers who help our staff enter data, process donations, inventory medals, and organize the warehouse during the week.
  • Volunteers who spend their weekends at events and competitions; timing, scoring, escorting, and cheering on athletes as they compete.

When we say that Special Olympics Maryland is volunteer-powered, we mean it! So to our Special Olympics Maryland volunteers: THANK YOU! The impact you make on our program and in our communities is immeasurable. To those considering volunteering in the future: we can't wait for you to join us! We have many volunteer opportunities available for individuals with a variety of skills, experiences, and backgrounds. You can always contact volunteers@somd.org for more information.

Beginner Global Messenger Training

Hagerstown, Maryland was the host of the 4th Beginner Global Messenger Training since the fall of 2014. Attendees included Patrick Speaker, Lee Follett, Richard Dobson Je, Dolly Hall and Margie French from Washington County, Sonya Carter and Corbin Swanger from Allegany County, Bryce Cole (Prince George’s County), Justin Hunsinger (Montgomery County), Ralph Gemmill (Carroll County), Phil Shepard (Frederick County) and Jeff Michaels (Garrett County).

The Beginner Global Messenger is part of the Athlete Leadership Program (ALPs) and the first step in becoming certified as a full Global Messenger. This course provided training and presentation skills for athletes interested in representing Special Olympics Maryland and Special Olympics athletes in formal or support settings.

Special Olympics Athlete Leadership Programs allow athletes to explore opportunities in roles previously considered “non-traditional.” Such participation might come in the form of an athlete serving on the Board of Directors or local organizing committee; or it might find an athlete as a spokesperson, coach or official.

These 12 Maryland athletes learned the elements of what goes into a speech including presentation skills such as voice inflection, body language and facial expressions. All participants had to present a short speech at the end of the day so showcase what they learned. Click here to watch their speeches.

There are now 77 official Beginner Global Messengers throughout the state in every county or region except one. If you are interested in getting involved in the Athlete Leadership Program please contact Jason Schriml (VP Communications) at jschriml@somd.org.

SOHO Spotlight - The Klimas

Pat and Maryanne Klima are pictured above coaching a Howard County Traditional 5v5 Basketball team

Five years ago when I took over the position as Howard County Traditional 5v5 Basketball Coordinator, the program had a hardened reputation. Many families were reluctant to move their athletes up to this highest level because of past stories of physical altercation between certain players. Slowly but surely the coaching staff has worked on changing the atmosphere surrounding the program from that of a street ball game to one of fun and exercise. A major move in this direction is due to the addition of Maryanne and Pat Klima as head coaches. Beside becoming major financial benefactors to SOHO, the Klimas have adopted our program as their own.

Starting with one team several years ago, we now have 5 full 5v5 Traditional Teams. Two are high school age teams, two are young adult teams and the Klimas coach our top tier team. The Klimas have taken a bunch of individual players and turned them into a well oiled machine. I spent the last qualifier watching their team play unselfish basketball and dominate two other major teams in the SOMD program. The director of the SOMD program came up to me and remarked that while the Klimas' team didn't have the best athletes in the SOMD program, they were the best coached and played the best team basketball. The Klimas have taken a group of young men who previously seemed more concerned about their individual wants and needs and given them purpose driven by a team goal and collective achievement. I have seen a lot of personal and athletic growth in all of them.

In conclusion, I would personally like to thank the Klimas and all the 5v5 Traditional coaches for the on court effort in changing a challenged sports program into one SOHO can be proud of. While the Klimas have no personal tie to our organization, I feel like they have adopted us into their family. Please take my invitation to reach out and thank this special couple.

Jim Bourdon - 5v5 Coordinator, Howard County

MYTH:  I don't know anything about sports, so I can't volunteer for Special Olympics.

FACT:   Special Olympics is driven by volunteers with a wide range of skills, interests, and backgrounds. In addition to coaching and sports-based volunteer opportunities, we engage volunteers in many different roles including special events and fundraising, logistical support, photography and social media, data entry and administrative support, event medical coverage, and so many more! We welcome any individual ready to make a difference in the lives of 7,311 athletes.

 Law Enforcement
Torch Run

The 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run is coming up! These events, hosted by Maryland Law Enforcement to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics Maryland, will take place on June 6 - 10. This is your chance to run side by side with your fellow law enforcement personnel and the Special Olympics torch! Click here to register or to find out more information about events in your community.

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 sports... it's only a click away!

State Basketball Tournament Results

650 athletes, 140 coaches, 75 Unified Partners, and 100 volunteers from across the state attended the 2016 Special Olympics Maryland State Basketball Tournament on April 2-3 in Frederick, MD. Athletes and Unified Partners represented each area/county program from the state and showcased skills learned and perfected over 12 weeks of training and competition. Click here for full results.

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


We'd Love to Hear Back from You!
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