September 2015

Greetings Supporter,

Kayaking, golf, cycling, flag football, power lifting, soccer, tennis, bowling and long distance running, that adds up to nine sports in which we have over 1,000 athletes currently training and competing this fall. Dating back to August 23 and continuing through December 6th we will have had athletes competing in these sports on 15 out of 16 weekends. We will give our athletes a Thanksgiving weekend break.

Teams are competing in soccer and flag football leagues and qualifying tournaments in preparation for the state tournaments. Individuals are attending qualifying tournaments, races and meets as their pre-cursor for the state championships. This underscores that we are a year-round program in which our athletes are always training and competing. Fall is our busiest, most intense season.

In addition to our core mission the fall also offers a series of valuable non-sports events. Famous Dave’s has been an exceptional partner in helping to raise money and awareness by hosting six Unified Bocce and BBQ days while also running a promotion in their restaurants.

The law enforcement community continues to be an exceptional supporter. The MDTA hosted the Ft. McHenry Tunnel Run on September 20. Our Dunkin Donuts Cops on Rooftops kicked off on September 25 with long-time supporters from the Laurel Police Department and first time supporters in Frederick County led by the Frederick Police Department. On September 18 Corridor Mortgage hosted their annual golf outing to support Special Olympics Programs in Howard County and Carroll County. Big Bats hosted their outing at Queenstown Harbor on September 24 to benefit the Upper Shore Program.

I am very proud of the Family Education Conference and the Athlete Congress that was held on September 26th both of which commemorated Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) Day. In particular the Family Education Conference delivered valuable information to the family members including a keynote presentation from Department of Disabilities Secretary, Carol Beatty. Athletes Loren Plaxen and Bryan Barry opened the session with their reflections on EKS Day and Special Olympics before introducing Secretary Beatty.

As we execute so many events on and off the field of play, I want to recognize our athletes, families, coaches, volunteers and the SOMD staff for their tireless efforts in delivering on the promise of the mission.

Always Brave in the Attempt,                      

James C. Schmutz
President and CEO

This selfie photo was taken on stage at the 2015 Summer Games Opening Ceremonies  

Bob Strunge

Hometown:  Columbia, MD

Joined Special Olympics: 2002

Sports:  golf and bowling (softball in the past)

Excited about: competing at the NIT Golf Championship in Hilton Head, SC this month.

Wants you to know:  that he's a free spirit, takes nothing for granted and feels you have to work hard for what you believe in.

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

Bocce:  A Lifelong Sport For Lifelong Friends

   Ben on the Bocce court and Ben & Owen at Opening Ceremonies                                                                

Bocce is one of 5 sports offered at the Summer Games at Towson University. On May 16th we caught up with Montgomery County Bocce Head Coach Renny Springuel and teammates Ben Collins and Owen White to discuss the game and the special bond that Ben and Owen share.

Coach Springuel reflected on this and said, “I inherited Ben and Owen. They are one of the few original members of the Montgomery County Bocce Team. They go back two or three head coaches that they have been together. They have always been together. They have been inseparable.”

Owen and Ben have played doubles for as long as both can remember. When asked why they are such a successful team Owen said “Putting the palina against the board because Ben is legally blind.” Ben agreed adding “I can only see shadows and shapes. But I really rely on picking up sounds and the voice.” On the Bocce court someone is assigned to stand over the palina and tell Ben that he/she is right over the target ball. That way Ben can use sound to determine where he has to throw. Combine this with Owens directions of short, long, left and right, Ben has become a very proficient Bocce player.  

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


Family Education Conference a Huge Success

Athletes Loren Plaxen and Bryan Berry introduce Carol Beatty, Secretary of the Dept. of Disabilities during the Opening Session             

The Family Education Conference was held on Saturday, September 26th.  The sessions were so popular that we needed to add chairs to seat everyone in the room.  Jim Schmutz, President & CEO for Special Olympics Maryland, welcomed families during the Opening Session.  Loren Plaxen, athlete from Montgomery County and Bryan Barry, an athlete from Carroll County, were exceptional as they told the audience the importance of Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day.  All of the presenters are leaders in their field and expressed their enthusiasm about the entire conference and how well it was organized.  Ms. Carol Beatty, Secretary of the Department of Disabilities delivered meaningful and pertinent comments in her Opening Session.  She even stayed for the Public Safety session in the morning.

Thank you to Melissa Porter, Chairperson of the Education Committee, for working on the conference from the very beginning.  Melissa’s idea to structure the conference with two tracks:  Track 1 for family members of athletes under the age of 18 and Track 2 for families of athletes over the age of 18 was perfect for our conference.  It ensured that the families were receiving the information they wanted and needed.  Melissa assisted with the recruitment of presenters, vendors, developing the flyers needed for registration, and assisted with last minute needs at the office starting at 7:30 AM on Saturday with the registration set up.  We are very fortunate to have Melissa chairing the committee and being a vital member of SOMD. 

Topics for both tracks included DDA Waivers/LISS, Fitness and Public Safety.  A session on Transitioning was also presented in Track 1, and a general session for Cyber Bullying and a Vendor Fair ended the day.

Alex and Pim Brouwers, athlete and father from Montgomery County, were dynamic speakers at lunch to discuss the importance of families in Special Olympics.  Larry Burton from the Lion’s Club spoke at lunch as well to describe the important of the work they do for Special Olympics.

For more information or questions about the education conference, please contact Susan Holland at 

2015 Special Olympics
Golf Invitational Tournament

 Al Mineart and his son Nicky are pictured here. They won a silver medal for Level 2 Alternate Shot Play at the tournament.  

Congratulations to all members of Team Maryland that participated in the 2015 Special Olympics Golf Invitational Tournament! 

We had some fantastic competition, an amazing experience, and enjoyed a truly wonderful event! The athletes left Baltimore Thursday, September 10th and returned on Monday, September 14th.  The group played well, earning one gold and several silver medals.  New friendships were formed with fellow golfers from the 15 states and Canada who participated. Having the USGA and the PGA providing assistance and KMPG providing volunteers made it a well-run and fun three day event. 

Special congratulations goes to Jay and James Cromwell from Montgomery County who earned a Gold Medal in Level 2 – 9-hole Unified Stroke Play Competition at the tournament!  

Way to go Team Maryland!

A special “thank you” to our friends at Superior Tours for their hospitality and safe transportation to and from the competition in Hilton Head, South Carolina. 

Another special “thank you” is in order for our Head of Delegation, Mr. Chuck Hellmuth! Chuck has been a long-time SOMD coach in several sports, and continues to be a great supporter of our SOMD Golf program and our athletes. Thank you for serving as our Head of Delegation and for your commitment to the Special Olympics movement!

Athlete Congress

The 18th Annual Athlete Congress took place on Saturday, September 26th.  18 members attended with a full agenda for the day. 

After roll call, athletes were introduced to the concept of Governance Training and how this will help to increase their effectiveness on the Board and at Area County Committees throughout the state.

There was also a presentation on the formation of Athlete Input Councils which will be introduced in 2016 and will allow athletes to gather feedback at the local level and present their issues and concerns to the Athlete Congress.

Chairman Keegan Zimmerman had both of his resolutions passed during this session.  The first resolution was to expand the “R” Word Campaign, and the second resolution was to recognize Disability Employment Awareness Month.  Both of these resolutions will now be shared with President & CEO Jim Schmutz before being shared with the Board of Directors for a final vote.  A special thank you goes out to Keegan as this was his last session serving as Chairman.

Voting also took place and we are happy to announce that Elaina Camacho from Anne Arundel County is the new Vice Chairperson for the Athlete Congress.  Keegan Zimmerman passed the gavel to Annu Singleton from Baltimore City who has now moved into the Chairman position. 

MYTH:  Special Olympics Maryland athletes are no longer eligible to participate when they complete their time in high school.

FACTSpecial Olympics is for youth and adults with intellectual disabilities age 8 and older. Our oldest active athlete is 90. We continue to work hard to create transition programs for those athletes participating in school programs to ensure they know how to register for and participate in community based programs when they leave school.

Take Syd's Challenge


Syd is an athlete from Carroll County that wanted to give something back, so he decided to donate one hour of his pay each month to Special Olympics in Carroll County.  If Syd can do it, so can you!  Click here to make a monthly contribution to support athletes across the state or in your county and make a difference all year long.

Do you donate through an Employee Giving Campaign?

Employee Giving Campaigns are in full swing. Here's a list of designation codes if you would like your donation to benefit Special Olympics Maryland:

United Way of the National Capital Area:  8888
Combined Federal Campaign (CFC):  1992
Combined Charity Campaign:  4264
Maryland Charity Campaign:  4525

United Way of Central Maryland:    There is no code for this campaign.  You need to "write in" Special Olympics Maryland to designate your donation.

Questions?  Contact Sue Jacobs at


Join us for Unified Bocce and BBQ hosted by Famous Dave’s in Frederick on Saturday, October 10th.

Click here to see more details 

Bravelets to benefit 
Special Olympics Maryland

Many styles to choose from and $10 from every Bravelet is donated back to Special Olympics Maryland

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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