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.

Weekend Warriors – the Volunteers & Athletes

Lawrence Academy has a cool blog post where they talk about all they put into volunteering for our Winter Games.

The Massachusetts Special Olympic Winter Games were this past weekend and 13 LA students were exhausted and ready for a break by late Sunday afternoon.  They left early on Saturday morning and returned late afternoon, only to make quick change, so 7 of them could attend and volunteer at one of the dinners/dance that evening.  Then they returned again early on Sunday for the final games and medal ceremonies.  Our students were only 13 out of 1200 total volunteers needed to pull off this event where over 2500 athletes participated in basketball, skiing, bowling or floor hockey. Venues included 9 high schools in the Worcester, Auburn and Shewsbury area, Wachusett Mountain, two bowling lanes and Assumption College’s rec center. more

Behind the scenes – World Winter Games

Special Olympics Massachusetts athlete Michael DeLuca shows off his bronze medal for alpine skiing with Michael Chevrette at the World Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

I’m writing this from Pyeongchang, South Korea, at the 2013 Special Olympics World Games, the 7th which I’ve had the honor of being involved in over the past 12 years.  My life in Special Olympics has led to varying roles; from staff member, volunteer, and here, GMS technical advisor.  Never would have imagined my involvement would lead to such far flung locations as Korea, Greece, China, Ireland and Japan.  I’m one of a team of 7-10 people who come and assist with GMS (the official competition software for Special Olympics world wide), and within that crew we count citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, Ireland, New Zealand, Bahamas, Poland, plus US representatives from coast to coast.

Standing alongside the hardest working, most dedicated group of people I have ever met, fills me with pride that I play a small role in the successful execution of these games. My place here is behind the scenes, sitting and staring at a computer screen, and ensuring information regarding competition is accurate, complete and error free.  It doesn’t compare to the training our athletes partake, the hundreds of hours our coaches and volunteers spend at the local, regional, state and national level. It always inspires me watching competition, seeing the intensity of sport, the joy of the game that these athletes bring each and every time they step on the field.  Continue reading

Spirit of the Games

PyeongChang, Republic of Korea – 29 January 2013: On the evening of 29 January in the snowy mountains of the Republic of Korea, thousands gathered in the Yongpyong Dome, not far from the Alpensia ski resort, to officially open the start of the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games and celebrate what is set to be an incredible week of competitions that will showcase the life-changing power of sport.

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More than 100 delegations from around the world participated in the ceremonial parade of athletes in front of a capacity crowd, as they prepared for the Korean “Dream Chorus” themed ceremony which depicted a Korean-culturally inspired beautiful dream of humanity towards co-existence and harmony. Many notable sports and entertainment celebrities including Yuna Kim, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo and others joined in the celebration. Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye, who will become Korea’s first female president, were both in attendance to welcome the more than 2,300 athletes from around the world to the Republic of Korea. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the U.N., provided video remarks saying that Special Olympics World Winter Games will advance dignity and opportunity of all. Live remarks were given by several others, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, MP, Chairperson, National League for Democracy, Burma (Myanmar), who walked on-stage hand-in-hand with Special Olympics athlete and global messenger Ariel Ary of Costa Rica; she proclaimed that “it is the spirit that overcomes” which rang true with all in attendance. more

Alyssa Neil: Speed Skating – World Winter Games

Passionate, dedicated, and determined are three words that perfectly describe Alyssa Neil. Aside from her training for multiple Special Olympics sports, she works tirelessly as an advocate for the intellectually disabled. She and her sister Courtney, a Unified Partner, are members of the Youth Activation Committee. As part of the comittee, Alyssa and Courtney promote inclusion school programs like Project UNIFY as well as the anti-bullying campaign “Spread the Word to End the Word.” Alyssa has spoken at numerous conferences and schools about the importance of inclusion.

On the field, Alyssa is an accomplished athlete in many sports, particularly speed skating and track and field. She credits her family and Special Olympics for allowing her to build confidence and social skills. Alyssa is thankful for the lifetime of friendships she has made with fellow Special Olympics athletes. Alyssa will represent Team U.S.A. in speed skating during the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Support our World Winter Games delegation here.

Keith Robert: Speed Skating – World Winter Games

Since he was 8 years old, Keith has built quite an athletic resume participating in Special Olympics Masschusetts. He has enjoyed competing in seven sports thoughout his career, especially soccer at the national and international level. Keith owes his success to his large extended family that always supports him. His brother has been a large proponent to his success as he has played as Keith’s Unified partner. Keith will represent Team U.S.A. in speed skating during the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Support our World Winter Games delegation here.

Volunteer Kathy Savage – World Winter Games

Kathy serves as the medical director for Special Olympics Massachusetts. She recruits, trains, and assigns the medical volunteers for the 126 sporting events that are held each year in Massachusetts. In addition, she works full time as a Nurse Practitioner at the Elder Service Plan for the North Shore.

Kathy has also traveled to the past two Special Olympics National Games as part of the Massachusetts delegation. At each of those events, Kathy went from venue to venue administering medication to the athletes. She was also the primary care provider for the Massachusetts delegation.

Kathy is a great asset to 12,000-plus Special Olympics Massachusetts athletes who rely on her to take care of their injuries and medication needs. She deserves to represent Massachusetts and Team USA at the upcoming Special Olympics World Games in South Korea.

Support our World Winter Games delegation here.