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! 

Meet Falmouth Road Race Runner Stephanie Thompson

By Peyton Heller
Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern

Since running cross country all four years in high school and continuing into college, running is something Stephanie Thompson can practically do in her sleep. Starting her marathon career in 2004 while she was a junior at Norwich University, Stephanie has now completed about 58 marathons, 6 half marathons, multiple 10Ks and 5Ks, a couple sprint-distance triathlons, 1 Olympic-distance triathlon and 1 half-Ironman. Basically, Stephanie is unstoppable. Most of the marathons were completed between the years 2012 and 2016 when Stephanie made it her goal to run a marathon in every state and on every continent. So far, she has run a marathon in all 50 states as well as 5 continents, with only Europe and Australia left to complete. Working hard to complete this goal, Stephanie lives by the motto of ‘doing your best’. Her favorite quote is from Jim Evans, “The body achieves what the mind believes.”

Born and raised in Martha’s Vineyard and moving to Sandwich, MA when she was 10 years old, Stephanie has always been involved in many non-profit organizations around Massachusetts. Currently, she works as a full time park ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers at the Cape Cod Canal. She also has her own running/coaching business, Warrior Runners, which is where she coaches individuals who are preparing for races. But it doesn’t stop there. This summer, Stephanie is hosting a trail run series across the Cape as well as a charity fundraiser in Sandwich on the morning of Sandwich Fest.

Deciding to run the Falmouth Road Race with the Xtra Mile team was no hard decision. While Stephanie may be taking a break from long-distance running, she still looks to participate as a charity runner. Becoming involved with the newly formed Special Olympics team in Sandwich, as well as being a disabled American Veteran, Stephanie is very happy to be running for SOMA and giving back to the community and the cause she strongly believes in. “I believe that everyone deserves that right – both abled and disabled bodies.”

Stephanie is motivated by her father, who is a polio survivor. “He has a disabled leg and hasn’t been able to run since the age of 5. I run for him because he can’t. He’s so proud of me, and I want to share my experiences, travels, and life’s journey with not only him but others along the way.”

While the average time for a female running one mile is 9 minutes and 55 seconds, completing a 7-mile run in about 70 minutes, Stephanie plans to run the Falmouth Road race in under 50 minutes. With her athletic background, there is no doubt she will be able to complete her goal. In relation to her marathon goal, Stephanie says, “I am very proud of my determination to set lofty goals, train hard, and achieve them.”
We are so excited to see Stephanie cross the finish line and help thousands of Special Olympics Athletes. Best of luck!!

Please consider supporting Stephanie 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! 

North Andover School Day Games

North Andover School Day Games

What a busy Spring we are having! Thanks to so many great school partnerships, volunteers, donors, athletes, and families – as well as our School-Day Games presenting sponsor, Bank of America, we are hosting recreational and competitive events daily across Massachusetts. When all is said and done, we will have hosted over 30 School-Day Games with over 5,000 athletes participating this Spring (this is in addition to our regular competitive sports Spring season where we’ll serve over 2,000 additional athletes). We collected some photos and videos this week at the North Andover School-Day Games. Let’s get to it:

The North Andover School-day games are a district-wide affair, with all public schools from North Andover taking part, and hundreds of “fans in the stands” from schools and families. It is a community-wide affair. See for yourself in this Opening Parade video:

Volunteer School Day Games leader Sharon Randall and all of the teachers and volunteers who run the event have built an incredible community. Chief Gray and the North Andover Police Department came to help out as well.

At the end of the event, each athlete earned a medal. Here is their approach to the medal stand:

While this is a great one-day event, many of these athletes are involved in competitive Special Olympics sports programs throughout the year. In fact stay tuned for more details about a growing partnership with North Andover High School!

(Most photos in this post courtesy of Danielle Perry of North Andover, MA)

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Lauren Wears Many Hats

This is an excerpt from a speech by Special Olympics Athlete and Global Messenger, Lauren to the Special Olympics Massachusetts Board of Directors on February 28, 2017:

Throughout my involvement in Special Olympics I have held many titles; global messenger, head coach, volunteer, fundraiser, team coordinator, lobbyist, committee member and master of ceremonies. But the title that I cherish the most, the one that I hold close to my heart is athlete. Titles come and go but being an athlete is something no one can ever take away from you. I started Special Olympics when I was 9 years old. To my 9 year old Special Olympics meant friends. By 14 years old my disabilities became so overpowering in my life I moved to a residential school. To my 14 year old self Special Olympics was a loving connection to home. At 18 years old I was living on my own for the first time and experienced all the ups and downs that being a young adult entails. To my 18 year old self Special Olympics was a constant reminder to be true to myself. When I was 21 I encountered some difficult choices regarding my future. To my 21 year old self Special Olympics was the family that stood behind me while I made those decisions. I am now 25. To me Special Olympics is hope. Hope for the mother whose son starts showing signs of autism in preschool. Hope for the father whose disabled adult son applies for a job because he gained the confidence needed by being a team captain. Hope for the brother who never thought his wheelchair bound sister would ever play catch with him until he saw her compete in the softball throw. Hope. Because Hope is the foundation in which all other notions are built upon. And because Special Olympics doesn’t just change lives, it builds futures.

Meet Boston Marathon Runners Maire & Shannan Callanan

By Emme Punches,
Special Olympics Massachusetts Events Coordinator

 

Special Olympics runs deep in the Callanan family. From an early age, both Maire and Shannan Callanan were introduced to Special Olympics through all aspects of the organization – the athletes, volunteers, and coaches.

Every Sunday when they were young, they would head down with their brother to the track in Situate to help their mother Betsy coach the local Special Olympics Massachusetts track and field team. Shannan and Maire got to observe firsthand the influence Special Olympics has on all the athletes’ lives. They saw these athletes gain confidence through all of their experiences. It touched even closer to home because for more than 10 years, they got to watch their Uncle Joe who was active Special Olympics athlete. Since then, both Maire and Shannan have decided to follow in their mother’s footsteps and coach Special Olympic track and field teams.

Through her journey with Special Olympics, Maire expressed that “It has been a wonderful experience to participate in Special Olympics Massachusetts with some of the people who are closest to me in my life and see the positive effects that the organization has had on their self-confidence as well as their interpersonal and physical skills.“

Maire and Shannan who are 5 years apart in age, have both been long time runners. Together, they set a goal of running the Boston Marathon as a family for all of the athletes they have both coached. Together, they accomplished their goal on Monday, April 17, 2017 as they crossed the finish line on Boylston Street.