Meet Falmouth Road Race Runner Elizabeth Downs

By Peyton Heller
Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern

Elizabeth Downs started getting involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) when her cousin, Andrew Lawson, joined several years ago. “I got involved with Special Olympics through my cousin Andrew. I would attend his swimming events and just be blown away at the excitement of the athletes, coaches, and spectators.” 

Elizabeth is part of the 2017 Xtra Mile team for the Falmouth Road Race. With this being her third time running this race, she uses the motivation from Andrew to continue running. “This year my motivation behind Falmouth is my cousin Andrew. Andrew has been a Special Olympics athlete for several years now. Over the last two years he has been battling cancer. He is such a fighter! My aunt mentioned to me that Special Olympics had a team, and as soon as I was off the phone with her, I filled out my application. What better way to honor my pal than to run for the very organization that has given him so many wonderful, happy opportunities.”

Running with her best friend, Jill Stone, who is also apart of the Xtra Mile team, Elizabeth is very excited to have the opportunity to run this race once again. “I have run Falmouth twice. The event is amazing. The crowd is outstanding. Just pray that it’s not too hot!!!”

While Elizabeth has continued to watch Andrew compete in events over the years, her love for Special Olympics has grown tremendously. She is thankful for the opportunities that Special Olympics has given Andrew. “One word that comes to mind when I think of Special Olympics is “inspirational”. Special Olympics is an amazing organization. The opportunities they provide for their athletes are endless. I have been to several events and every time I watch athletes compete, cheer on their fellow teammates, and receive their medals I am left with a feeling of absolute amazement. Another word that comes to mind when I think of Special Olympics is “community.” The sense of family that they have provided for families with children that are disabled is something that most people are incredibly grateful for.”

The inspiration Elizabeth receives from Andrew is not only related to running, but also to her job. Elizabeth worked for North River Collaborative as an ABA therapist after she graduated from college but became an inclusion teacher three years later. Since then, she has been working at Cedar Elementary, switching between 2nd and 3rd grade. She thanks Andrew for inspiring her to become a teacher. “The inspiration for becoming a teacher was my cousin, Andrew Lawson. Andrew was born on March 19, 1990, and from the moment I met him, an interest sparked in regards to his early intervention and therapies. I knew it was the path I wanted to purse. Through Andrew’s parents I was introduced to what Special Olympics was, and how many wonderful opportunities it provides to children with disabilities.”

Special Olympics Massachusetts thanks you for your support and wishes you the best of luck on race day, Elizabeth!

Please consider supporting Elizabeth or one of the other Xtra Mile Falmouth runners!

Want to run Falmouth, bike in the Rodman Ride for Kids, or a number of other races? Join the Xtra Mile today!

New England Revolution 2017 Unified Match: Take 1

On the day of the big match between New England Revolution Unified Team and Chicago Fire Unified Team, both teams met in Boston for some pre-game fun! In order to get the full experience in Boston, the teams went on a Duck Tour around the city and then headed over to Fire and Ice for some lunch to fuel up for the match!

 

After the trip to Boston, both teams headed back to Gillette stadium to get ready to watch the New England Revolution Take on Chicago Fire! Before heading down to the sidelines to watch the players warm up, they went into their own locker room to grab their jerseys and get a pep talk from Andrew Farrell and Joshua Smith, two Revolution players.

Once everyone got their new personalized jerseys on, the team headed out to the sideline to watch the players warm up. Here they were greeted by dozens of fans, all asking for them to sign their Revs program, which had the Unified teams picture on it. Everyone wanted an autograph!

The  teams watched the match between New England Revolution and Chicago Fire from  box seats in the stadium, everyone getting mentally ready to take the field in a few hours. Once the game ended, the unified teams headed down to their locker rooms to get ready, and then out to the field to warm up for the big match that they had been training months for!

Once the game started, there was no slowing down either of the teams. With the fan section cheering loud, the ball went back an forth for the entirety of the match, both teams putting all their hard practice to work. The score remained zero to zero for a majority of the game, thanks to some incredible defense from the Revs Unified team as well as skillful goal-tending from both Joe Jamros and James Keith. In the end, Chicago Fire managed to score a few quick goals, resulting in them winning the match. Regardless of who won, both teams left everything they had on the field, resulting in a challenging and competitive game of soccer. At the end of the match the fan section went wild, cheering loudly and  giving high fives to both teams.

Both teams are eager to get a second shot at playing each other, fortunately, they will have that opportunity in the first week of August! The New England Revolution Unified team will travel to Chicago to play the Chicago Fire Unified team, giving them another shot at taking home a win!

 

 

ESPY Award Winner Tyler Lagasse

 

 

On Thursday July 6th, Tyler Lagasse received a 2017 Honorary ESPY Award at the Special Olympics Massachusetts Yawkey Sports Training Center. Tyler was given this reward in order to recognize his, talent, dedication, hard work and enthusiasm for athletics. In addition to beating Gary Woodland with a birdie on the 18th hole at the AT&T National Pro-Am, Tyler also won the Silver medal at the 2010 Special Olympics USA games. Tyler hopes to be attending next years 2018 Special Olympic USA games, where he can continue to inspire other athletes and embody what it means to be a true ESPY athlete.

Meet Falmouth Road Race Runner Katelin Cwieka

By Peyton Heller
Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern

Why Special Olympics? Katelin’s connection with Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) started about 7 or 8 years ago when one of her close friends, who has a son with Down Syndrome, convinced her to get involved. Katelin began slowly with fundraising then participated in an LETR run as well as a polar plunge and she was hooked. She continued to get involved and volunteer more, and now years later, here she is running the Falmouth Road Race as part of the Special Olympics Massachusetts Xtra Mile team. Running since she was 14 years old and already completing about 6 races this year, this race adds to her total of over 100 races that she has participated in.

Katelin believes Special Olympics means inclusion and something for everyone. She thinks that sports, comradery and teamwork is something that everyone gets to enjoy, and she loves how Special Olympics really pushes that.

Growing up in Pembroke, MA, Katelin works at Avidia Bank as the Assistant Vice President of Social Media and Brand Communication. Since Avidia has been a long time partner and sponsor of SOMA, Katelin has lots of opportunity to work with SOMA and their different events, such as the Polar Plunge and the Tournament of Champions. Recently, Katelin has completed her first half marathon which has made her even more excited to run the 7-mile Falmouth Road Race. Between her pump up song, ‘Shipping up to Boston’ by Dropkick Murphy’s, her motto, “Keep positive about everything” and her husband and two best friends attending the race to cheer her on, Katelin is more than ready.

Preparing for her race, Katelin runs about 4-5 times a week with her runs ranging from 3 – 10 miles focusing on the longer distances on the weekend. With such a love of running, Katelin rarely struggles getting herself ready for a run and plans on focusing on how great she will feel after it is completed. Katelin loves the outdoors and really enjoys how she feels during a run. Katelin is determined to shorten her time during this race, so if you see her running, be sure to cheer her on!!

Best of luck on race day, Katelin!

Please consider supporting Katelin or one of the other Xtra Mile Falmouth runners!

Want to run Falmouth, bike in the Rodman Ride for Kids, or a number of other races? Join the Xtra Mile today! 

Meet Falmouth Road Race Runner Christina Lombardi

By Peyton Heller

Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern

Starting her running career when she was just 13 years old, Christina Lombardi had no idea what she was getting herself into. “I competed in a total of 16 seasons of Cross Country and Track and Field. I stopped in college to focus more on studies but never stopped visiting the road. Once college was over, I really just enjoyed running on my own. My biggest challenge was my half marathon back in 2014 in Disney.” Running has always been something she has enjoyed, and being an athlete since such a young age, she cannot imagine what it would be like to not have sports in her life, which is why she is such a fan of Special Olympics. “Having been an athlete since childhood, I could never imagine not having that outlet and being told’you can’t do it’. To be able to just help one person, no matter the impairment in enjoying this crucial asset in life – is what drives me to be here today.” Christina lives by the motto “Yes you can”! She often reminds herself of this when she is training for a race. “So often do I hear ‘I could never run that or do this or win that’. Running is so mentally challenging, the first thing you must prepare to train is not your legs – but your mind. YOU CAN DO IT!!”

Christina works in Human Resources for a global pharma company, as well as The Vin Bin, which is a local shop and café which offers a variety of foods, drinks and gifts, and as dog walking on Rover. The Vin Bin donates goods and services to Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) which Christina had the pleasure of coordinating. Being given the opportunity to work with SOMA thru work made Christina want to get more involved with SOMA, and here she is, running the Falmouth Road Race for the Xtra Mile team.

With this being the first time Christina has run a race for Special Olympics, this is also her first time fundraising for a race. She is thankful for the support from her friends and family, as well as Rover. . “This is my first time fundraising and it has been going well so far. 50% has been amazing support from friends and family and 50% I have been donating 100% of profits from Rover (dog walking). I tell all my clients that their money is going straight to SOMA and they are always very happy about that.” Everyone that is involved with SOMA- athletes, volunteers, employees, etc., -all appreciate your fundraising. Good luck as you continue fundraising and best of luck on race day, Christina!

Please consider supporting Christina or one of the other Xtra Mile Falmouth runners!

Want to run Falmouth, bike in the Rodman Ride for Kids, or a number of other races? Join the Xtra Mile today!

Meet Falmouth Road Race Runner Beth Donahue

By Peyton Heller
Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern

“I know I can do it.” “Just keep going.” “I got this.”

Being involved with Special Olympics since she was 8 years old, Beth Donahue has always pushed herself to do her best all while inspiring others to do their best both in sports and life. Beth first got involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) when her parents signed her up for soccer, but she didn’t stop there. For the past 19 years, she has competed in gymnastics, basketball, track, and skiing. More recently, Beth has focused on running, which is how she got involved with the Special Olympics XTRA Mile Team for the Falmouth Road Race. With an extensive history of running 5K races, mostly with Special Olympics, Beth has decided to focus more on her long distance training since this race will be the longest one she has competed in so far. The distance is no match for Beth’s love and dedication to SOMA. “Over the past several years, Special Olympics has given me so many opportunities to speak on their behalf and I have enjoyed the opportunities to inspire others to support people with disabilities. I also love to run and lift weights so doing the Falmouth Race is a perfect match for me.”

With the help of her new running shoes, R.I.P.P.E.D. boot camp music, and her mom, who is a fitness instructor, Beth is always ready for a good workout. “If I have been indoors all day at work or in class, my favorite thing to do is come home, change, grab my dog’s leash, and go for a run with my dog, Cooper. He is a 3- year- old Yellow Lab.”

Growing up in Marlborough, MA, Beth is currently taking classes at MassBay Community College as well as working part-time at Marshalls and Walgreens. “Both companies employ people with disabilities, and I am grateful for the opportunity to use my skills and show how much inclusion matters. I like to spread the word about my volunteer work and all the great things that Special Olympics does to improve peoples’ lives through sports.”
With so much love for Special Olympics, Beth is very excited to be running yet another race for them. Be sure to cheer her on if you see her running the road race on August 20th! Good luck on race day, Beth!

 

Please consider supporting Beth or one of the other Xtra Mile Falmouth runners!

Want to run Falmouth, bike in the Rodman Ride for Kids, or a number of other races? Join the Xtra Mile today! 

Meet Falmouth Road Race Runner Sam Nunes

By Peyton Heller
Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern

“To me, Special Olympics is the epitome of inclusion and motivation. The athletes truly exhibit a never-give-up attitude and don’t let a disability stop them from being the best person they can be. They are truly role models that anyone can look up to.”

Growing up in Marlboro, NJ and attending college in Massachusetts, Sam Nunes knew after graduation he had to move back Mass. Now working as the Marketing Coordinator for New England Revolution, it was easy for Sam to get involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts. After being asked to accompany the Unified Soccer team on their away trip to New Jersey last summer, Sam immediately knew this was an organization he wanted to continue working with. “At no point did anyone on the team grunt over a teammate’s mistake, put someone else down, or get frustrated when they got scored on. All I heard was support, words of encouragement, and of course tons of cheering. It was such an organic moment that really stuck with me.”

With the Falmouth Road Race being Sam’s first official road race, he couldn’t be happier that he gets to run for SOMA. “I decided to run the Falmouth Road Race when Special Olympics offered to include some Revolution staff on their Xtra Mile team. I had always wanted to get into running official road races, but for one reason or another, I never got around to it.” Sam links the start of his official road race career to a quote that he lives by, “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” Sam doesn’t want to look back one day and feel as if he hasn’t fully lived his life, he wants to continue to create those important memories that he can look back on and feel proud of.

As we all know, it can be hard to get yourself up and off the couch to go for a run, but with the help of Special Olympics and his favorite tunes, including ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift, Sam finds the motivation to get up and train. “Having to go out and run when you’re not motivated is definitely a challenge, but I like to remind myself of the reason I am running this race and the incredible organization I am running it for.”
If you happen to be on the sidelines of the Falmouth Road Race, make sure to keep an eye out for Sam as he completes his first, but hopefully not his last, official road race. Congrats and good luck, Sam!

Please consider supporting Sam or one of the other Xtra Mile Falmouth runners!

Want to run Falmouth, bike in the Rodman Ride for Kids, or a number of other races? Join the Xtra Mile today!