May 2015

Greetings Supporter,

Interactive, inclusive communities of dignity and respect were on full display in April and May, arguably the most active two months during the year for Special Olympics Maryland. High school teams consisting of Special Olympics athletes and their non-intellectually disabled peers competed in Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) outdoor bocce and track and field regular season meets, district qualifiers throughout April and then the state championships in May. Washington College hosted almost 250 student-athletes from 30 schools in the outdoor bocce championship while over 900 student-athletes competed in the IUS track and field championships on May 12th and 13th at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex. In addition to unified teams competing the opening ceremonies were led by a unified team serving as co-Master of Ceremonies.

Special Olympics Maryland athletes also competed in a series of Spring Games track and field meets and multi-sport event “Games”. I got to see athletes from Frederick, Garrett, Washington and Allegany counties compete in track and field and swimming at the Allegany County Spring Games on May 2nd at Allegany College. The following day on May 3rd, Montgomery County hosted track and field, bocce and softball at Good Counsel High School. Wilde Lake HS in Howard County hosted a track and field qualifying meet on May 9th. Baltimore City hosted over 925 athletes at their Spring Games on May 5th, 6th and 7th at Poly Western High School. Prince Georges hosted over 450 athletes at their Spring Games on May 7th at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.

In fact there were over 100 competitions and special events scheduled over the last two months and all of them in their own way provided interactive transformational experiences that continue our collective efforts to build inclusive communities of dignity and respect.

On Tuesday the Unified Relay Across America (URAA) presented by Bank of America came to Maryland. The relay received great support in Hyattsville and College Park including participation from city officials, business leaders and University of Maryland Head Coach for men’s basketball Mark Turgeon. Click here to see a video from this leg of the relay and a message from Mark Turgeon.  On Tuesday evening we had a celebration outside Camden Yards that included our friends from law enforcement and Bank of America along with the O’s fans. The highlight of the evening came on the field where 10 athletes were recognized and Baltimore athlete Dante Lathan had the honor of delivering the ceremonial first pitch. He fired a strike and the crowd went wild.

One highlight from the URAA I would to share was the final day . We organized a segment of the URAA at Cedar Lane School in Fulton. Many students here are non-verbal and some use wheel chairs to assist with their physical challenges. Teachers, assistants, administrators and families are dedicated to defining adaptive strategies and tactics to help these students develop. Based on the needs of the students the school is a dedicated learning environment that does not include non-disabled students. So when Lime Kiln Middle school, right next door, brought out their band for the Opening Ceremony and had the entire student body line the run route to cheer-on these student-athletes it was an exceptional showing of support for the Cedar Lane students.

 Students from Lime Kiln Middle School are on the sidelines cheering on the athletes during the URAA at Cedar Lane School in Fulton, MD.

With family and friends joining in, the three Cedar Lane teams raised $4,500. As Joy Meenan, Yusef Darrehmane and Regina Jackson led the run, they showed us all the importance and value of creating interactive inclusive experiences. These athletes will demonstrate their motor activities training program skills at a Challenge Day on June 12.

On June 5th, 6th and 7th we will celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games.  I invite you to come out and witness our athletes in action.  If you have never been to a Special Olympics competition I urge you to join us and have your life transformed. 

#PlayUnified, #PassTheFlame


 Always Brave in the Attempt,                      


James C. Schmutz
President and CEO


ATHLETE of the MONTH
Abby Reznek  

Hometown:  Berwyn Heights, MD

Joined Special Olympics: 2007

Sports: aquatics, cycling & powerlifting

Excited about: competing in aquatics at the the World Games in Los Angeles this coming July and meeting people from other countries.

Wants you to know:  she aspires to one day become a Water Safety Instructor and share her passion of swimming with others.

Video link:  click here to meet Abby and hear her message

You can also click here to make a donation to Abby as she raises money to support her travel and lodging at the upcoming World Games in July.

Upcoming Events

Competitions/Events:

Special Events:

A Special Tribute to My Dear Friend Marty Sheets

On May 23rd, at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Greensboro, North Carolina, hundreds of friends, family members and fellow Special Olympics athletes gathered to celebrate the life of a great American, Marty Sheets. The funeral gathering of hundreds demonstrated how one person, given the opportunity could touch so many lives. Marty, was an original Special Olympics athlete having attended the first Special Olympics World Games in 1968. Click here to read about his incredible life.

I first met Marty Sheets in 1991 when Special Olympics launched the sport of golf. I was the Director of Sports for Special Olympics District of Columbia at the time and had the good fortune of being invited to join Marty to serve on the committee. Marty played an important role in helping golf grow which included the first ever World Games Golf competition in 1995. When I got the news on May 21 that Marty had passed away, I called Marty’s dad Dave. In my attempt to offer my condolences, I started weeping like a baby. I shared with Dave that my life was better for having known Marty.

I can remember telling Dave over the years that I hoped my boys could grow up to be like Marty who was a man of character and grace… a giving and caring person who made everyone around him happy. Marty’s mom Iris is a wonderful caring person. It’s no wonder that Marty turned out to be such an admirable man. Marty lived with them for his entire life. Dave and Iris will be the first to tell you that Marty was a blessing. And I will tell you that Dave, Iris and Marty collectively are a blessing, a great team.

I consider myself lucky to have known Marty and been able to call him my friend. I love Marty Sheets and I will continue to remember him for the impact that he had in building inclusive communities of dignity and respect that touched people in all walks of life around the world. God bless you Marty, thank you for being my friend and
thank you for making the world a better place for us all.

 
 - Jim

If you have the time,
we still have the opportunity.  

Volunteer positions are now available at our upcoming
2015 Summer Games 
at Towson University


EVENT DATES 
Friday, June 5th
Saturday, June 6th
Sunday, June 7th

EVENT LOCATION
Towson University
(8000 York Road, Towson, MD 21252)

EVENT OVERVIEW
Athletes will travel to Towson University to compete in Athletics, Aquatics, Bocce, Cheerleading, and Softball  

Click here to register to volunteer

For more information please email Kelly Cox kcox@somd.org 

The Unified Relay Across America
Arrives in Maryland!

 

For more than 33 years, law enforcement officers have been volunteering together to champion acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities through the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. Lighting the way to a future of inclusion, law enforcement officers have used the Flame of Hope as their beacon to unite their communities in acceptance. This year, they will take their role as Guardians of the Flame to a new level as they support the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America (URAA for short).

From May 26 to July 10, the URAA, will unify the nation as it delivers the Flame of Hope across the United States ending in Los Angeles to celebrate and initiate the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

On May 26th – 28th with the help of our partners in law enforcement, our athletes, their families, business and civic leaders, and SOMD supporters from around the state, the Flame of Hope made its way through Maryland as Teams ran legs of the Relay from Hyattsville to Baltimore to Annapolis and down to the Cedar Lane School in Fulton.

The Relay began in Hyattsville on May 26th as the Flame of Hope was passed from Washington DC. With the help of Doug Holland, Chief of The Hyattsville Police and Special Olympics Maryland parent, Special Olympics Maryland was able to recruit teams from Hyattsville and College Park to help kick off the Maryland portion of the URAA.

The Flame was carried by teams made up of Special Olympics Maryland athletes, Candace Hollingsworth (Mayor of Hyattsville) and the City Council of Hyattsville, the Hyattsville business community, both the Hyattsville and University of Maryland Police Departments, the City of College Park, famous College Park Restaurant RJ Bentley’s, and the University of Maryland Athletic Department featuring various coaches and athletes including Men’s Basketball Coach, Mark Turgeon.  Click here to see a video from this leg of the relay and a message from Mark.

Later that afternoon the Flame was carried up to Baltimore as Teams circled the M&T Bank Stadium and continued down Raven’s walk to Camden Yards for a celebration in Schaefer Circle.  Several SOMD athletes were then invited by the Orioles to participate in a pre-game ceremony on the field in Camden Yards.  The athletes were recognized by the announcer and shown on the Jumbotron while O’s fans cheered on.  Special Olympics Baltimore athlete, Dante Lathan, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and it was a perfect strike!  The O’s lost that night, but that did not dampen the spirits of the SOMD athletes and supporters in attendance.

The Baltimore leg of the URAA would not have been possible without the help of Bank of America, the Baltimore Orioles, the Maryland Stadium Authority, and the Maryland Transit Authority Police.

On May 27th the Flame of Hope was carried through Annapolis by Teams from around Maryland.  Escorted by a caravan of police cars, an Honor Guard, the Annapolis Police Department led by Chuck Bealefeld, and Special Olympics Maryland athlete, Michael Heup, the Flame made its way from the Statehouse to the City Dock.

When the flame arrived at City Dock, the athletes, teams, police, and SOMD supporters were treated to a celebration featuring a live performance by Wordsmith and Latera.

Chuck Bealefeld of the APD was instrumental in recruiting participants, raising funds and securing permits.  It is safe to say that without his efforts the Flame would not have been able to make its way through Annapolis.

On May 28th the Flame made its way to Cedar Lane School in Fulton, Maryland. Cedar Lane School educates students with special needs in a setting that is respectful of diversity.  Many students here are non-verbal and some use wheel chairs to assist with their physical challenges.  Cedar Lane School includes several SOMD athletes among its student body who participate in the motor activities training program. 

The Flame of Hope was greeted at Cedar Lane by music from the student band and hundreds of students from Lime Kiln Middle School lining the perimeter of the loop.  

As the flame was carried around the loop and passed among several Cedar Lane students, staff, and parents, the crowd was cheering them along every step of the way.  It was an incredibly inspiring tribute to the students. 

The Flame of Hope is now continuing its journey across the United States to unify even more communities along the way and raise awareness about Special Olympics.  And thanks to the visit in Maryland there is a flame that will continue to burn in the hearts of so many, a testament to the ability to build inclusive communities of dignity and respect.

 


Here's a sneak peek at the schedule of events coming up this weekend at Towson University for the 2015 Summer Games

DATE

EVENT

LOCATION

TIME

Friday, June 5th

Cheerleading

Opening Ceremonies

Towson Center

SECU Arena

12:00pm-2:00pm

7:30pm-9:00pm

Sat. June 6th
Sun. June 7th

Athletics
Aquatics
Bocce
Softball

Check in at Information Booth outside Unitas Arena  for schedule & location

Sat:  9:00am- 5:00pm

Sun: 9:00am -2:00pm

Click on this link to get a personal invitation from one of our athletes to attend the games.  

We hope you can come out and join us over the weekend!

Athletes Benefit from Swimming Clinics at Towson University


During the fall, The Towson swimming and diving program hosted a series of clinics for SOMD athletes.  The SO athletes were partnered with TU Tigers to provide individualized instruction on all strokes including dives, turns, and individual medley transitions. 

On Saturday, January 10th, 28 Special Olympics Maryland athletes had the opportunity to showcase their swimming skills during the Towson University / McDaniel College swim meet.  As honorary Tigers, SOMD athletes participated in pre-meet coaching meetings, participated in the team’s entrance and encouraged the team poolside.  During a break, Special Olympics athletes competed in 6 heats that demonstrated their skills.  When they exited the pool, each SO athlete received a medal from their TU coach.  Given to mark their accomplishment of the day, each medal held personal meaning for the coach as it was one that they had earned throughout their swimming career.   Special Olympics Honorary Tigers were given another opportunity to demonstrate their skills on January 24th during the Towson University / Johns Hopkins University swim meet. 

Giving back just got easier!

Did you know that Amazon Smile will make a donation directly to Special Olympics Maryland for items you purchase?  Click here to start shopping!

Help support the Maryland Delegation of athletes at the upcoming 2015 World Games in Los Angeles

You can help one or all six of our athletes who will be representing Maryland at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games being held this July in Los Angeles, CA. Just click here to meet our athletes and follow the links to their giving page.

   Athletes Served

    7,169

5,291 TRAINING & COMPETITION

1,878 TRAINING

 

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.



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