July 2015

Greetings Supporter,

The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games return to the United States for the first time since 1999, which is a big deal when you consider that the first ten World Summer Games from 1968 thru 1999 were all held in the US (click here to see the history).  The strategic deployment of the Games in Dublin (2003), Shanghai (2007) and Athens (2011) fueled unprecedented global growth. In 2000 there were a little over 1m athletes participating in 150 nations. Today there are 4.5m athletes from 170 countries. You are part of a global movement.

On September 15, 2011 Special Olympics turned to Los Angeles to host 7,000 athletes from 170 nations. Last year ESPN joined our movement as the official broadcaster for these Games and they have extensive programming along with dedicated space on their website (click here to view the website) planned throughout the Games which will no doubt highlight the collective force of our athletes. After four years of planning the athletes and their delegations started arriving in California on July 21st.

I am extremely proud of Abby Reznek, Alicia Gogue, Eddy Murphy, Ben Stevick, Terrel Limerick and Chris Dooley all of whom will represent Maryland and compete at the Games as members of the Special Olympics USA team. You can learn more about them inthis issue and you can still support them and our team fundraising initiativeby clicking here. These athletes are great ambassadors for the other 7,163 SOMD athletes who they represent. These athletes will enjoy this once in a lifetime experience but more importantly they will be part of an historic awareness building campaign that exposes this global movement to people who might not otherwise be touched by our athletes.

In The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,  Malcolm Gladwell suggests that “If you want to bring a fundamental change in people's belief and behavior...you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.”  With support from people like you we have built a strong communities where dignity and respect are practiced and nurtured. Our greatest charge then is to continue to extend our reach, to bring more people into these communities and build new communities across the state so that all Marylanders can experience the inherent goodness that results from the transformational experiences provided by our athletes.

On August 2nd the Games will end and 7,000 athletes will return home. The legacy of their effort and these Games has to be measured by our ability to ride the wave of this unprecedented coverage (click here to view the coverage by ESPN). You can help by asking a friend to tune in to ESPN – they can even DVR it and watch at their convenience. We are an important part of this global movement…a movement that only grows locally in gyms, on fields, in pools and in other sport venues in towns, villages and cities around the world. Here in Maryland over the next six to 12 months we will work hard to leverage the awareness generated from the Games across the state to recruit more athletes, volunteers, donors and fans as we transform lives as Champions together.

Always Brave in the Attempt,                      

James C. Schmutz
President and CEO

This photo was taken of the Special Olympics Maryland World Games athletes at the team send off gathering hosted by SOMD President and CEO, Jim Schmutz.

[From bottom center of circle moving clockwise Alicia Gogue (cycling), Ben Stevick (equestrian), Chris Dooley(kayaking), Terrel Limerick (sailing), Eddy Murphy (cycling)  and Abby Reznek (swimming)]

of the MONTH
Matt & Isaac Weingram 

Hometown:  Owings Mills, MD

Joined Special Olympics:     Matt-2009, Isaac-2014
Sports (Matt pictured on left): track & field, soccer, skiing, basketball, swimming and sailing

Sport (Isaac pictured on right): sailing

Excited about: competing in the sailing competition this weekend in St. Mary's County.

Wants you to know:  that I've met many friends through Special Olympics and I've gained confidence all while having a lot of fun!

Video link:  click here to meet Matt & Isaac and hear their message

Upcoming Events


  • Training begins around the state for golf  and kayaking

Special Events:

This Weekend Kicks off the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, CA 

ESPN is the official broadcaster of the 2015 Special 
Olympics World Games. Coverage begins live from Los Angeles with the Opening Ceremony on July 25th at 9pm ET/6pm PT and continues daily, throughout the Games.  We hope you will tune in to see the coverage. Click here to view the coverage by ESPN.

Catherine Gruss and Terrel Limerick, both athletes with Special Olympics Maryland, will be featured on “Countdown to the 2015 Special Olympics with Robin Roberts”. It is part of ESPN’s 2015 Special Olympics World Games coverage lineup and will air on Saturday, July 25 at 2:30 p.m on ABC and 8 p.m. on ESPN. That will be followed by ESPN's live, three-hour coverage of the Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony (9 p.m.) and will be preceded by ESPN Films’ new 30 for 30 Short, “Brave in the Attempt” (7:30 p.m.).

Please take this opportunity to meet the 6 athletes from Maryland who will be participating at the 2015 World Games.  

Abby Reznek

  Hometown:  Berwyn Heights

  Sport:  Aquatics/Swimming

Abby is a talented swimmer from Prince George's County who also participates in cycling and powerlifting.  When she had difficulty finding a job after high school she joined Special Olympics.  She's made many friends and has learned some valuable life skills.  She's looking forward to competing alongside of her USA teammates, but is also looking forward to meeting athletes from around the world.  Click here to read about her swimming clinic in May with Michael Phelps.

Alicia Gogue

  Hometown:  Odenton

  Sport:  Cycling 

Alicia Gogue is a seasoned 15-year veteran of Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) from Anne Arundel County who will participate in the cycling competition on Team USA at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Year-round, Alicia competes in swimming, golf, cycling, skiing, rollerblading and bowling through Special Olympics. When she first began competing, she was worried that she did not have what it took to succeed. However, over time she gained confidence, new friends, and an acceptance for life, and now knows that there is nothing she cannot achieve with hard work and support from her friends and family.

Ben Stevick 

  Hometown:  Laurel

  Sport: Equestrian 

A long-time Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) athlete from Howard County, Ben will join five other SOMD athletes on Team USA and will participate in equestrian events.

Ben has been a part of SOMD for 15 years, winning gold, silver and bronze medals in multiple sports, including aquatics, equestrian, powerlifting and skiing. He won his first medal at a swimming competition when he was only 10 years old. In addition to helping Ben stay physically fit, Special Olympics has helped build Ben’s confidence and has allowed him to meet many new friends. 

For Ben, Special Olympics is a family affair. His parents have helped him train for many SOMD sports, including skiing, swimming and horseback riding. In addition to cheering him on at every competition, Ben’s parents and five siblings have also served as volunteers for SOMD regional and state games. Ben looks forward to competing against the top athletes in the world at the World Games and is excited to have his family wish him luck and support him throughout the entire process.

Click here to read more of Ben's story 

Eddie Murphy

  Hometown:  Glen Burnie

  Sport: Cycling

Eddie Murphy is a courageous Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) cyclist from Queen Anne’s County, who will join five other SOMD athletes on Team USA to compete at the World Games.

Eddie has been involved with Special Olympics for the past five years and has competed in various sports, including basketball, swimming, bocce, bowling and cycling. Special Olympics changed Eddie’s life by helping him grow into an independent young man and teaching him that he can do anything if he puts his mind to it. Since joining Special Olympics, Eddie has shown courage in sports and started traveling more. Eddie is looking forward to competing at the World Games and showing the world that he is a champion.

Terrel Limerick

  Hometown: Bethesda

:  Sailing

Terrel will represent Special Olympics USA as a Level 5 sailor at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.  He competes against some very stiff competition from Norway, Holland, Greece and Australia to name only a few. 

Terrel has participated in Special Olympics for more than 20 years and has won over 100 medals in sailing, skiing, basketball, bowling, kayaking and track & field. Growing up with a twin brother without an intellectual disability, Terrel sometimes found it challenging to explain his learning disability to others who did not understand. When asked how Special Olympics has changed his life, Terrel cites his improved physical fitness, ability to compete in many sports year-round and opportunity he’s had to make new friends.


Chris Dooley

  Hometown:  Denton

  Sport:  Kayaking 

Chris Dooley is a dedicated Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) athlete from Caroline County, who is excited to compete as part of Team USA at the Special Olympics World Summer Games. In his first appearance at the World Games, Chris will be traveling to Los Angeles with five other SOMD athletes and will be participating in kayaking.

Chris has been involved with SOMD for five years and has participated in golf, powerlifting and kayaking. In addition to supporting Chris at each of his competitions, Chris’ mom also volunteers at the events and continuously tries to recruit new volunteers and athletes. Special Olympics has helped Chris make new friends and encouraged him to try new sports he’s never competed in.

Beyond Special Olympics, Chris works as a helper at the Caroline Center in Ridgely, Maryland. Chris is also a member of the Knights of Columbus of the fourth degree and is an usher at his church.

MYTH: Special Olympics is the same as the Paralympics.

FACT: Special Olympics welcomes all athletes with intellectual disabilities (age 8 and above) of all ability levels to train and compete in 32 Olympics-type sports.

Paralympics welcomes athletes from six main disability categories: amputees, cerebal palsy, intellectual disabilities, visually impaired, spinal injuries and Les Autres (French for "the others", a category that includes conditions that do not fall into the categories mentioned before).  To participate in Paralympic Games athletes need to fulfill certain criteria and meet certain qualifying standards. 120 athletes with intellectual disabilities qualified for and competed at the London 2012 Paralympics in track & field, aquatics and table tennis. 

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 

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