June 2015

Greetings Supporter,

The 45th Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games hosted by our good friends at Towson University on June 5, 6 and 7 marked a significant milestone in our history while offering another opportunity to showcase the abilities of our athletes. The informal beginnings of Special Olympics began in Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s backyard at Timberlawn in Rockville, Maryland with evidence of “unified camps” as early as 1962.  As you all know, her vision evolved into the first Special Olympics International Summer Games at Soldier Field in 1968. 

What you may not know is that from those games in Chicago grew a competition rarely talked about. Mrs. Shriver leveraged the momentum from Chicago, working with a chapter of the Jaycees here in Maryland to organize the Mid-Atlantic Special Olympics Games. She recruited one of our original founders Ed Mitchell to lead the management team. As only Mrs. Shriver could, she convinced Ed and the Jaycees to host a smaller scale version of the 1968 games for eight states at College Park, Maryland. Ed recruited Tom Carski to raise the funds and awareness to put on the Games. They also brought on John Rigley to manage volunteers who oversaw the Games which hosted 1000 athletes.

Those Games led to the first ever Special Olympics Maryland state summer games in 1970 conducted at Towson State University where athletes competed in track and field, swimming, basketball and volleyball. Ed, Tom and John led that effort too resulting in the birth of Special Olympics Maryland.

In a recent meeting with Ed, Tom and John I was struck by their humility. Like so many exceptional dedicated volunteers delivering our mission, these three leaders the founders of Special Olympics Maryland, simply wanted to give our athletes an opportunity to play. They were committed to making life better. It was all about the athletes.

“Don’t Believe be? Just watch”served as the theme for these games and channeled the same spirit that motivated our founders to focus on the abilities of our athletes. Over the years I referenced repeatedly the “transformative power of sport” as a central theme of what we do. But after witnessing our athletes command the stage at our Opening Ceremony I am re-focusing my emphasis on the authentic mechanism for change…our athletes. In Special Olympics we witness the power of our athletes to transform lives. When people take the time to learn who our athletes are, I mean really engage in conversations that provide valuable insight on the person, their lives are changed.

When we focus on what our athletes can do it helps bring confidence to preparing to compete on the field of play and the arena of life. When you watch my friend Loren “Action” Plaxen deliver the most impactful opening ceremony address I have ever seen you understand that she is the transformative power..."Don't believe me? Just watch" (Click here to see Loren's address).

Always Brave in the Attempt,                      

James C. Schmutz
President and CEO


A Special Tribute to Tressie Shavers

On June 6th, during the aquatics competition at Summer Games, Tressie Shavers, a Special Olympics Maryland athlete from Baltimore City experienced a medical emergency. At the time she began showing signs of distress, life guards, coaches, law enforcement officers and medical personnel responded immediately. First responders continued to provide treatment on-site, then transported her to receive emergency medical care at Saint Joseph Hospital, where she subsequently passed away. Tressie was a brave, determined and vibrant young woman and was taking positive steps to improve her health and fitness.

After meeting with competition organizers and Tressie’s coaches it was determined that the aquatics competition and all other competition would continue. Tressie’s coaches indicated that Tressie would have wanted her fellow athletes to continue competing. And so the competition on continued.

The final and most poignant tribute to the power of Tressie presented itself at the funeral service held on June 17 at Loudon Park Funeral Home and Cemetery in Baltimore. The tribute was simple…a church filled with a wide range of friends, family and supporters all of whom came to celebrate Tressie’s life. Everyone in attendance would tell you that their life was better in some way because of Tressie. To her final breath, Tressie lived the Special Olympics Athlete’s oath, always…brave in the attempt.


Shelby Boyer  

Hometown:  Mechanicsville, MD

Joined Special Olympics: 2008

Sports: track & field, soccer, bowling & basketball

Excited about: competing in the Summer Games at Towson University in track & field and receiving 1 gold and 3 bronze medals.

Wants you to know:  she admires her mom who takes her to all her trainings and competitions and has been fighting breast cancer since 2008.

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

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Tressie Shavers, an inspiration to all.

On June 7th, at each venue competition, organizers recognized Tressie with the following tribute:

Thank you for joining us this morning for the final day of competition at the 45th Annual Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games. As we prepare to cheer on our athletes who will compete today I want to take a moment to recognize and mourn the passing of a member of our Special Olympics Maryland family.

As you may know, Tressie Shavers a swimmer from Baltimore City experienced a medical emergency while competing yesterday. Tressie fought valiantly but in the end she passed away last evening. She was surrounded by her mom, coaches, staff and board members from Special Olympics Maryland. They joined Tressie’s mom and the hospital Chaplain in a circle of prayer that provided the dignity and respect that Tressie deserved before she passed away.

Tressie was a true champion, who fought obesity head on through her passion for swimming. Tressie loved to swim and based on feedback from Tressie’s coaches, Tressie would have wanted the competition to continue. So today we will honor Tressie in the spirit of Special Olympics. As we prepare to continue competing, I would ask that you join me in a moment of silence.

Please keep Tressie and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

And as a final tribute to Tressie, I would ask everyone and I mean everyone, athletes, coaches, families, friends and volunteers to join in reciting the oath. Let me win, but if I cannot win let me brave in the attempt.


Summer Games held at Towson University 


Cheerleaders from Baltimore County entering 
the venue for competition at the 2015 Summer Games

Athletes from across the state competed in cheerleading, softball, bocce, aquatics and track & field. One weekend. More than 1,200 athletes. Here's a glimpse of the games at Towson University on June 5th - 7th. 

Opening Ceremonies - by Jason Schriml

Pictured from left to right are Tammy Holibaugh, Loren Plaxen, Elaina Camacho, Adam Hays, Dr. Peter Chandler and Nick Stewart. 

This year’s 2015 Summer Games Opening Ceremonies included an unprecedented number of athlete leaders in it. Including co-emcees Tammy Holibaugh and Nick Stewart. Additional leadership roles went to Lori Plaxen, Annu Singleton, Charles Gaines, Stacey Hull, Brandon Ermentraut, Adam Hays and Elaina Camacho. The theme of “Don’t Believe Me Just Watch” resonated with all participants and was woven throughout the ceremony. Audience participation was at an all-time high and the entire ceremony was capped off with the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final  Leg outside the SECU arena. Our partners and host Towson University continued to provide the excellent support and service to make this ceremony possible.  Click here to see the entire Opening Ceremonies Video - over 1 hour in length.

Athletics (Track & Field) - by Ron Freeman

As Athletics Venue Director I don’t often have the opportunity to watch many of the track or field events.  There are just too many things to do. But when we have a visually impaired athlete, running a track event with a guide rope, we all have to jump into action. 

I’ve watch our visually impaired athlete from Anne Arundel County, Dan Tucholski, for many years at both Summer and Winter Games. As do all of our athletes, Dan embodies our Athletes’ Oath, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”.

As we instructed the 25 volunteer guide rope holders along the 100 meter distance, I thought back to all the times I’ve watched Dan run. There are occasions when he’s lost his footing, fell and gotten right back up and sprinted to the finish. And every one of those times when he’s been complimented after the race, he has a smile on his face and offers a sincere and pleasant thank you.


Dan's mom Eva instructs the volunteers right before Dan runs the 100 meters. 

The gun went off and Dan was running straight and fast. Thirty meters and he was leading the race. At fifty meters , he was still ahead. As he neared the finish line the others were gaining on him. Dan seemed to be inspired by the cheering crowd and sprinted even faster. He did it – Gold medal! Not only that, but it was a personal record – his fastest 100 meters ever. In my mind, not only was that a Gold for Dan but also a Gold for the volunteers. If even one person, did not hold the rope tight or was slow to lift hands off the rope, then Dan’s result might have been different. 

Aquatics/Sean McGing - by Melissa Anger

Sean swimming unassisted and Sean & Kaitlyn out of the pool

Sean McGing of Howard County has been swimming for 13 years and has always needed the assistance flotation device until this year. This season, with help from a former basketball player of mine- Kaitlyn O’Byrne, he was able to swim without the use of flotations. He won gold in the 10M Assisted Swim and the 15M Unassisted Swim. When it came time to do the 25M Freestyle, he almost made it the entire 25M, but couldn’t make it so Kaitlyn jumped in and helped him finish. The ability to almost swim the 25M Freestyle is a huge accomplishment! Click here to see a video that his dad took of him at this event. 

Softball - featuring Brian Silvea 

Brian competing in softball at Summer Games.

Brian Silvea is like all athletes -- he works hard to perfect his game. He's on the field every day, practicing, hitting, catching. It's especially impressive because he plays with one arm.  Click here to see the video produced by WBAL-TV that was aired the week leading up to Summer Games.

 Bocce - featuring Coach Vince DePalmer

Coach DePalmer cheering on his athletes at the Summer Games.

Carroll County's bocce team has a lot to be thankful for, including the hard work and dedication of one inspirational coach.  Coach Vince DePalmer built a court in his back yard to learn a sport that his father and grandfather loved. Two years ago, he agreed to coach the athletes and he said the athletes, whom he said are the best part of the experience.  
Click here to see the video produced by WBAL-TV that was aired the week leading up to Summer Games.

Law Enforcement Torch Run - by Betsy Jiron

Law Enforcement and athletes carrying in the torch to light the cauldron at the 2015 Summer Games.  

From June 1st – June 5th the Special Olympics Maryland torch was carried around the state by over 2,000 officers and athletes. There were 4 legs, Eastern, Southern, Western and Central. The Eastern Leg started in Ocean City, the Southern started in St. Mary’s County, The Western in Hagerstown and the Central in Harford County. On the evening of June 5th officers then carried the flame of hope into the opening ceremonies to light the cauldron that kicked-off Special Olympics Summer Games. Officers from Maryland Law Enforcement support Special Olympics Maryland year around through awareness and fundraising campaigns. 

Summer Games Results 

Click here to see the results by County.
Click here to see the Softball Results.

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Save the Date:  
Saturday, January 30, 2016 -
Sandy Point State Park


Raise $75 by Aug. 1st and
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Help support the athletes who make up
the Maryland Delegation 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 

Abby Reznek Meets Michael Phelps 

Abby Reznek (far left) is pictured here with other athletes who attended the swimming clinic with Michael Phelps. 

Michael Phelps spent the last Saturday in May at the same swim club he grew up in to share the techniques he uses with five swimmers who will compete at the Special Olympics World Games, which will be held July 25-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles (ESPN, WatchESPN). The athletes traveled to Baltimore from as nearby as Berwyn Heights, Maryland, and as far away as Omaha, Nebraska.  Abby Reznek, from Berwyn Heights, was able to be a part of this amazing experience.

Phelps spent a good chunk of Saturday's clinic just talking with the athletes. He chatted with them about swimming and a host of other topics.  Click here to read the entire story.

Alicia Gogue featured in Special Olympics World Games Video by ESPN

Alicia Gogue, a cyclist from Anne Arundel County, shares some insight about how cycling, her family and Special Olympics Maryland has changed her life.
Click here to see the video. 

Join us every Wed night this summer for Bocce at the Inner Harbor with some Special Olympics Athletes!

8-week Unified Bocce League runs every Wednesday night 6pm - 8pm, starting June 10th.  Games will be played on the grass at Rash Field, right next to the volleyball courts.  Teams of between 4 and 8 total players will be formed as Special Olympics athletes and non-disabled Unified Partners check-in.  Teams are made on an as-you-come basis, but registering indicates you will play in at least 6 of the 8 weekly league dates.

A special thank you to Waterfront Partnership and Constellation Energy for their support! 

Giving Back Just Got a Little Easier!

Did you know that Amazon Smile will make a donation to the charity of your choice for items you purchase through this site? Click here to shop and give a little something back to Special Olympics Maryland.

   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.

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