Meet Falmouth Road Race Runner Doreen Britton

By Peyton Heller
Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern

“If you’re not living on the edge you’re just taking up space!”

Running for 35 years, Doreen Britton has participated in over 20 races, including a mud run, an inflatable obstacle run, several sprint triathlons, a 64-mile bike ride and 3 previous Falmouth Road Races. Doreen has been active with Special Olympics for many years and is currently a coach for bowling in the winter and track and field in the spring. Special Olympics is something Doreen loves to be apart of, especially with her job as a special education teacher for multiple grades as well as working with students with physical, social and intellectual disabilities.

Being an active member of the SOMA community, Doreen sees all the hard work that is put into changing the lives of the thousands of athletes all over the state, which is why she is happy to be fundraising for this organization. “As a coach I am aware of the cost of everything that goes into a sport season for Special Olympics and want to do my part to ensure every athlete of the Barnstable Public Schools has the opportunity to participate.”

Even with a recent injuries, Doreen still pushes herself to run multiple times a week. She is motivated to run because of how she feels after, as well as how she is running for SOMA. “I see how so many students with disabilities struggle daily and me running for an hour a couple times a week doesn’t compare.”

We thank you for your support in helping us change the lives of athletes all over the state. Best of luck on race day, Doreen!

Please consider supporting Doreen 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 Jill Stone

By Peyton Heller
Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern

Growing up in Hanover, MA and spending her summers on the Cape, Jill Stone has run the Falmouth Road Race in both 2014 and 2015, and is very happy to be back running this year for Special Olympics Xtra Mile Team with her best friend, Elizabeth Downs.

Motivated by Special Olympics Massachusetts athlete Andrew Lawson, Elizabeth’s cousin, as well as her husband’s cousin, Seth Dame who is a Special Olympics Rhode Island athlete, Jill is running for #LawsonStrong and #SethStrong. “Andrew and Seth are two of the sweetest guys you’ll ever meet and I’m honored to run for these two amazing athletes and the organization that has encouraged them to chase their dreams!!”

Busy with work and motherhood, Jill uses running as time to herself. “As a working Mom it can be some of the only “me” time I get during the week. It’s a time to be with my thoughts, release some stress, and burn some calories. I’m a better Mom and wife when I’ve gone for my runs. During my runs, I just take a peek at my #SethStrong and #LawsonStrong bracelets and keep pushing myself for those guys.” 

Working with non-profit organizations throughout her entire career as well as adults with developmental disabilities, Jill is thankful for her involvement Special Olympics. “I have worked for the American Red Cross for 13 years as a Health & Safety Account Executive. I have worked for non-profit organizations my entire career and know the value and importance of donations. My previous job was a Residential Coordinator/Advocate at New England Village’s in Pembroke – a community for adults with developmental disabilities – many of my residents were active with Special Olympics.”

Running multiple times over the course of the week, sometimes including her 9 month old son and his stroller in her runs, Jill is ready to take on the Falmouth Road Race for the third time. Thanks for helping Special Olympics Massachusetts change the lives of thousands of athletes. Best of luck in August!

Please consider supporting Jill 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 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!

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 are things that everyone should get to enjoy, and she loves how Special Olympics really emphasizes 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, while inspiring others to do their best both in sports and in life. Beth first got involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts 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)


Meet Boston Marathon Runner Rachel Dill

By Emme Punches,
Special Olympics Massachusetts Events Coordinator

Special Olympics Massachusetts is excited to have one of our own running the 2017 Boston Marathon. Rachel Dill, Director of Development and Partnerships, is an inspiration to us all. Her dedication, heart and ambition are unparalleled and while we could rave about her all day, we thought it best she tell her story in her own words.

“Six years ago, I had the crazy idea that I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 30. It couldn’t be just any marathon, it had to be Boston. Fast forward to today and it just so happens that the 2017 Boston Marathon falls exactly one month before my 30th birthday. Running the marathon has been in the back of my mind every year for the last six years and I knew that one day I would follow through on this personal goal.

“My connection to Special Olympics Massachusetts runs deep. My sister Jenny has special needs. She is 31 years old and has a developmental delay and learning disability. Jenny is one of the most kind and compassionate individuals I know and never fails to put a smile on my face no matter the circumstance.

Jenny & Rachel celebrating Jenny’s 31st birthday at her favorite Thai restaurant!!

“Jenny started competing in track and field with Special Olympics Massachusetts when she was ten years old. (This happens to be the same time I became involved and became president of the Jenny Dill Fan Club.) As we grew older, she continued to participate and I evolved from spectator, to volunteer, to fundraiser, and finally to a dedicated staff member at Special Olympics Massachusetts. For as long as I can remember, I have seen what a positive impact sports has had on my sister. Sports has helped Jenny develop better fitness, expanded her endless social circle, encouraged her to have confidence, and allowed her to experience the pure joy and excitement of winning a medal after a competition. She has taught me so much about myself and the importance of accepting others regardless of their situation. Jenny has truly shaped the person I am today. Having a sister with special needs has only enhanced my experience of one of the most amazing bonds in life: sisterhood.”

All of us at Special Olympics Massachusetts can’t wait to cheer her on as she crosses the Boston Marathon finish line. Go Rachel!

Support Rachel’s Boston Marathon Fundraising Effort Today!