Groton-Dunstable Highlights Special Olympics Athletes

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Groton-Dunstable High School’s Unified Basketball team named Students of the Month!

“I am so proud to see our athletes and partners work selflessly and compete together as a team should. They are an example for us all.” said Principal Michael Mastrullo

Read the whole article and learn about the athletes

Groton Dunstable Girls & Boys Varsity Basketball hosted the Special Olympics Massachusetts Community Games on January 31, 2016:

2016 Special Olympics Massachusetts Marathon Team!

We are excited to announce our 2016 team running in the Boston Marathon on April 18th. This is an exceptional group of runners and fundraisers who have some very strong and unique connections to Special Olympics. Thanks to John Hancock for including us in the nonprofit program again in 2016. We are excited to be back for another year.

In 2015 over $130,000 was raised for Special Olympics Massachusetts. This year we are raising the ante, with a goal of $150,000. The money raised will directly fund over 385 athletes in 24 sports across all four seasons.

 

Doug Keith_2015 boston Marathon Finish Photo Doug Keith is a man who wears many hats within Special Olympics MA. Doug is heavily involved as a father of an athlete, board member, coach, volunteer, 2015 Special Olympics MA Boston Marathon team member (and more importantly, finisher) and so mush more! Doug works at GMO and resides in the North Andover area. Welcome back, Doug!

Donate to support Doug

 

Shaw McKean Profile PicShaw McKean is a new member to this year’s Marathon team, but is no stranger to Boston or marathons! Having attended college in the area, Boston is Shaw’s home away from home. In 2014, Shaw ran the New York City Marathon, very close to his Brooklyn residence, and is greatly looking forward to finishing Boston – Welcome, Shaw!

Donate to support Shaw

 

Ben Hamblen_application PhotoBen Hamblen, another new member of the team, got involved with Special Olympics while working for MassMutual in Oregon several years back. It is through MassMutual’s special needs golf competition that Ben came to love the Special Olympics community. Ben is now local to the Newton area and works for Boston Commonwealth Financial Group. Ben came highly recommended by last year’s Boston Marathon runner and co-worker, Eric Spindt. We’re excited to have you on the team, Ben!

Donate to support Ben

 

Patrice-Glancy_application photoPatrice Glancy is no stranger to Special Olympics or the Boston Marathon. Patrice was one of the original Special Olympics MA marathon runners when we were granted John Hancock bib numbers in 2009, and she’s back for more this year. Patrice is in her 14th year as a special education teacher for students with autism spectrum disorder in Boston Public Schools and is a Special Olympics coach – Patrice has coached over 50 athletes in 9 years! Welcome Patrice!

Donate to support Patrice

 

Wendy Wyman Profile Pic 2Wendy Wyman, a new member of the team, is a well-seasoned runner with 6 marathons under her belt. Wendy has been involved with Special Olympics through her husband and brother-in-law over the years, but is excited to get more involved with Special Olympics MA since Massachusetts is her home away from home. Wendy resides in North Carolina, so we’re all allowed to be jealous of her this training season as we push through the snow and ice. Very excited to have you on board, Wendy!

Donate to support Wendy

 

Sue Freidus Profile PhotoSusan Freidus has been involved with Special Olympics over the last several years as a Jolly Jaunt 5k runner. While Susan is a seasoned ½ marathon runner, she is excited to make the leap to the full 26.2 miles with her first marathon experience! Susan grew up in Boston and has always had the dream of running the Boston Marathon. As a fitness coach, she is more than ready to hit the roads and get out there on behalf of all the Special Olympics MA athletes.

Donate to support Susan

 

Jen Reilly_2015 marathonJen Reilly has been involved with Special Olympics MA through her brother who is an athlete. Jen and her sister started the Cape Cod Champs Unified Special Olympics MA program that participates in flag football and volleyball. Jen, local to the Cape, has recently transitioned from a 7th grade history teacher to a special education teacher at Bourne Middle School. Jen ran on the 2015 Special Olympics MA Marathon team, and we’re very excited to have her back!

Donate to support Jen

 

Eric Crews_application photoEric Crews, a longtime supporter of Special Olympics MA, has run the 2010, 2012 and 2014 Boston Marathon with Special Olympics MA and is back for another season! Eric friends with an athlete’s father and hopes to keep running Boston for Special Olympics as long as his legs will let him! Glad to have you back, Eric!

Donate to support Eric

 

D.SnowDawn Snow comes to us as a new member of the team, but a two time marathon runner overall. Dawn has been involved with both Special Olympics MA and the Boston Marathon as a medical volunteer and was inspired to join this year’s team when she saw Special Olympics MA athlete, Greg Schwartz, pass her medical tent in the 2015 Marathon. Dawn is excited to give back to the athletes as she crosses the Boston Marathon finish line herself!

Donate to support Dawn

 

 

Matt Grimes: #Baller

Matt G - 1Matt Grimes is, for lack of a better term, The Man. When Matt sets a goal, he works hard to achieve it. Over 20 years ago, Matt underwent a number of surgeries on his neck and back. He was told he may never play basketball again. Since then, Matt has come back on and off the court. In 2007, Matt was on a team representing Special Olympics USA at the World Games in China. Matt says “It was the best time of my life.” Matt was also on a team that played in the TD Garden at half time of a Celtics game. In that game Matt went off, hitting 3 NBA three-pointers and picking up some well-timed assists. The crowd roared in support.

Off the court, Matt has a landscaping job “I mow lawns and do other work. I also help take care of my grandmother.” he said. Matt’s father and grandfather introduced him basketball, but Matt also plays softball, flag football and track & field with Special Olympics.

In a couple of weeks, Matt will be heading to Toronto, ON Canada to put a check mark next to another one of his goals. When he learned of the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports® Basketball game, he set a goal for himself – make the team. Before Matt’s grandfather passed away, he promised him he was going to do everything he could to make the team that plays at the NBA All-Star Game each year. After a national search conducted by Special Olympics Inc. Matt was one of only four athletes from the US chosen to compete. Along with 11 other Special Olympics athletes from across the world, Matt will play with current WNBA and former NBA stars in the fifth annual competition. The game will take place on Saturday, February 13th as part of the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend.

Check out Matt’s application video:

Matt’s coach, former Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year, Jenn Walsh told SOMA “Matt is humble but very friendly.” Walsh highlighted Matt’s incredible story, “Matt did not let that (surgery) stop him and he trained and worked hard until he was able to play again!” adding “Matt not only came back but he is an excellent basketball player and teammate!”
When Matt found out he was selected to the team, he said “Thank you very much! I think I might go out and celebrate tonight.” His humble nature shined through when he added “Can you let them (Special Olympics selection committee) know I am thankful too?”

Congratulations to Matt and the other athletes selected to compete in Toronto.

‘Unified sports’ brings students together

First-year teacher John Breault, 22, a Dartmouth High graduate, has been volunteering with the school’s Special Olympics summer program since he was in the fifth grade. He said it was the summer track and field games at Special Olympics that brought forth the idea of “unified sports.”

“At Dartmouth High, unified sports is just starting to bud. We’re trying to grow,” said Breault.

Unified sports takes students from the general population and students from the special education program and joins them together on the same sports team. The unified track program was a big hit last spring, so the program has since expanded to include unified color guard and basketball.

Read more…

Source: ‘Unified sports’ brings students together

“Volunteers are the Backbone”

By: Matt Millett

Eminem - 2Hi, my name is Matthew Millett and I’m a Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) athlete. I participate with Seven Hills and Shrewsbury local programs and have been involved with SOMA for 17 years. I’m also on the Board of Directors for SOMA and have volunteered for 5 years at Over the Edge, a fundraising event.

SOMA has changed my life over these past 17 years by allowing me to come out of my shell. When I first started, I was a shy person who just graduated high school, but now 17 years later I can talk to groups about Special Olympics. I have spoken about SOMA in places ranging from Marlborough MA, to Harvard University, to sitting down with my Senators in Washington DC and in Cape Town, South Africa. Sports is important to me because it teaches valuable lessons, whether it’s to be on time to an event, to be courteous to the officials or to respect your opponents. Sports is where everyone is on an even playing field.

My favorite story from 2015 was back in January at St. Marks School for a community basketball day held there. The students and teachers came out in droves to help put on a great day. From playing on their varsity court, to having the students doing play by play announcements and how excited the students were when an athlete hit a half-court shot. It was a great day all around and it was because of the involvement of the volunteers.

Volunteers make a difference by making SOMA a better experience. Volunteers are the backbone of having a great experience because they interact with the athletes. All the volunteers I meet are upbeat and positive, which is important especially if an athlete is having a bad day. If an athlete sees a volunteer engaging at their job, it will help lift their spirits.

I would like to say thank you to all of the 2015 volunteers, you made this a great year for SOMA. Whether it was for just one day, at multiple events, or if you volunteered with a team, I hope you experienced the joy that comes along with being a part of Special Olympics where sportsmanship is still evident and the joy of playing is still visible. I hope if you enjoyed volunteering with SOMA in 2015 that you will come back again in 2016 and help continue the growth that SOMA is on.

Thanks,
Matt Millett

Unified Sports: Building a Stronger Community

By: Samantha Zeno, Minnechaug Regional high School

FB_IMG_1443297542411My name is Sam Zeno and this is my second year being involved with unified sports. For the past two years I have been lucky enough to participate in the Special Olympics/ MASC recreational bocce tournament as well as the Polar Plunge event. I learned about these fun events through Student Council and I am so grateful to be able to participate in them. There is no community as strong as that created by unified sports. It is filled with friendship, acceptance, love, and spirit. I’ve learned the significance of these qualities, as well as what it means to play unified.  Fans on the stands cheer not only for their own team, but for all the players. All day we get to meet new people from across the state. The unification at these events amazes me and has shown me that love is everywhere.

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Samantha and her Polar Plunge team raising money to support Unified Sports!

SOMA has affected me by teaching me how to improve my character. Although I have only been to the bocce tournament twice, I’ve seen kindness there like I’ve never seen anywhere else. I love being around so many wonderful and kind people because these traits are contagious. Fans and players have shown me the value of spirit and enthusiasm. I’ve found myself being kinder, more spirited, and more enthusiastic than ever and then bringing these qualities back to my school. Unified sports have changed the culture of my school because all of those that participate bring kindness, acceptance, and a strong sense of community back to Minnechaug. Other students see these qualities and take the example. Unified Sports have created a stronger and more loving community at my school. The opportunity to be involved with SOMA has changed who I am and has improved Minnechaug. My past two years participating in unified sports have been extremely rewarding and I cannot wait for year’s bocce tournament!

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Christian Santiago

Christian Santiago is a volunteer photographer who travels throughout the state to take pictures at SOMA events. Christian donates his time, expertise, and equipment to capture the many special moments of SOMA and shares his pictures with the SOMA community on our Smug Mug page:

“Last year I found out that one of my nephews has a special condition which causes him seizures, speech impairment, and prevents him from having full mobility. One of my best friends also just had a son who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I wanted to help, in one way or another. I wanted to understand, to know what it’s like to work with a child with special needs.

Around spring time, the company I work for was promoting and encouraging volunteering for the Summer Games, so I decided to check it out. While signing up, I didn’t know what to expect, but once I saw that there were positions available for photographers, the decision was obvious. Photography is my hobby after all.

Photography is about the moment, so I wanted to capture the action and emotions happening so that I could share it with everyone else. I felt these athletes deserved this for all of their hard work. Being my hobby, I also wanted to use the opportunity to have fun and work on my photography skills.

While volunteering at Summer Games, I met a lot of people who were really happy to see me taking pictures. Asking the athletes for team pictures was very exciting for them, too. Some of the athletes made it known that they really wanted to see the resulting pictures. Some even asked if I could send a copy directly to them, which I did right after the tournament.

After the Summer Games, I learned that there were more events to come. A lot of them sounded fun, so of course I volunteered again. Softball, bocce, equestrian, and even a halloween themed 5k. All of these events were a lot of fun to volunteer with, especially the Amherst Trick-or-Trot with everyone dressed in costumes!

Volunteering as a photographer has been a lot of work with the travel and processing hundreds of pictures per event. But even with all of the work, it has been very rewarding. I’m glad I’m giving to a good cause!”