Meet Boston Marathon Runner Derek McCleary

Resilient, persistent, ambitious and courageous.

These are just a few words that we would use to describe Derek McCleary and his journey to the 2017 Boston Marathon. Derek never thought in a million years that he would be able to run the 26.2 miles that it takes to complete a marathon.

Derek was born and raised a true Bostonian. Growing up in Dorchester, MA, Derek’s inspiration came to him a few years ago when he decided to take a big look at his life. He wanted to work on his health and overall be a better person. Derek wanted to achieve something he never through possible which is what led him to decide to run the Boston Marathon. Derek and his his two children by his side began training for the 2016 Marathon. After a devastating injury just weeks before the marathon, Derek had to drop out and cheer on his children from the sidelines. To most people, this would be hard to get past, but this just made Derek motivated to come back faster, stronger and more ready than ever for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Not only is Derek ready to run, he also has a goal to beat his son’s time.

Getting the chance to run the Boston Marathon for Special Olympics Massachusetts means a lot to Derek. He is a proud employee at TD Bank, which is one of Special Olympics most generous partners. Derek has also spent the last 30 years of his life coaching sports, so he knows firsthand the value that sports can play on someone’s life by helping them build a sense of accomplishment and be part of a team. Derek couldn’t think of a better organization that supports his own values of making a difference through sports.

Please help support Derek in his Boston Marathon fundraising efforts!

Additionally, Derek will be hosting two fundraisers, a comedy night on March 30th and a 5 v 5 soccer tournament on April 9th!

Meet Boston Marathon Runner Kaylyn Tebbetts

By Emme Punches,
Special Olympics Massachusetts Events Coordinator

The athletes who run the Boston Marathon pull their inspiration from many different aspects of their lives. For Kalyn Tebbetts, inspiration comes from the core of Special Olympics-our athletes. In her work at Latham Center, tebbettsKalyn has watched her students participate in Special Olympics and has witnessed the positive impact it has had on their lives.

“I have seen my students grow from their participation in Special Olympics. They have become more self-assure and their self-esteem increases when they participate. They take pride in representing our school and promoting the idea that despite their disabilities that they can be athletes. One of our students won a sportsmanship award two years ago and that was such an incredible opportunity for him. It really has made a difference in their lives.”

Watching her students thrive with Special Olympics is why she decided to run the Boston Marathon for Special Olympics Massachusetts. If Kalyn were to ever run the Boston Marathon, it had to be now and it had to be for Special Olympics Massachusetts. She believes that running for a charity makes the running more meaningful. She is no longer running for herself, but the 12,000 athletes across Massachusetts and her students.

We are with you every step of the way! Help support Kalyn now!

Support Kalyn Tebbetts in her Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!

 

Allard and Avidia Bank Working to Building Inclusive Communities

allard1

Ben Allard on the basketball court

Building inclusive communities is the cornerstone of what Special Olympics is all about. This spirit of generosity, inclusion and volunteerism helps to connect the community as a whole. The work of Mike Allard and his son Ben is a perfect example of how creating an inclusive community raises awareness and brings people together. This weekend, March 4-5, 2017,  the greater Marlborough region will host two notable events – on Saturday, the second annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge for Special Olympics will take place at the Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough followed up by Sunday’s Juniors/Player Development Basketball Tournament hosted by St. Marks School and the Fay School in Southborough. In the spirit of bringing things full circle and creating an inclusive community the Allard’s will be a part of both exciting events.

Special Olympics has been a part of the Allard family for the past ten years. Ben has been a Special Olympics Massachusetts athlete since he was eight years old and now competes in basketball and swimming with a local team. Mike, his dad, not only cheers for him on the sidelines, but is also his basketball coach. But their involvement doesn’t end there. To support this organization which is so near and dear to their hearts they participate in fundraising events and Mike has even been active in getting his employer, Avidia Bank more involved. This coming weekend will be all about Special Olympics for both Allard’s and Avidia Bank.

allard2

Ben volunteering at the 2016 Tournament of Champions in Northborough

This Sunday, March 5th, Ben and Coach Mike will take to the court for the annual State Winter Games. The Juniors/ Player Development portion of the Games will see the first gold medalists in the annual state-level tournament that takes place in Greater Worcester and Southborough. When talking about the basketball event, Mike points out that those participating in the Polar Plunge and members of the community should stop by and see how “the funds raised through events like the Plunge help create all of this (the tournament). You might be one person but when you combine your efforts with the many people who give their time and effort, we can all make things happen.” The event is one of the Unified Sports® opportunities offered by Special Olympics Massachusetts. Unified sports brings athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together to compete on the same team, on the same court, at the same time. This inclusive model works to build bridges between groups of people who might never have met. Allard remarks that one of the Unified Partners on his team who does not have a disability, “doesn’t want to miss a week or practice. His mom tells me how much it has changed him.” Participating in sports also has a profound impact on athletes with intellectual disabilities. “I’ve heard all too often from parents that my kid is lonely or doesn’t have many friends outside of school. Special Olympics gives them a place to feel part of something. You can’t put a price on that,” shares Allard.

Events like this would not be possible without financial support. That’s where the Allard’s have stepped up once again. For the past two years Mike Allard and Avidia Bank, for which he is Senior VP of Marketing, have become more connected to Special Olympics Massachusetts. According to Allard, the bank made annual donations for about the past ten years. They became more involved when Allard was tapped to join the leadership committee for the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions, a state-level event held yearly in August that relocated in 2016 to greater Marlborough. Through this connection Avidia has developed a deeper relationship to the organization and the athletes it serves. As Allard puts it, once Avidia began “getting our hands dirty, volunteering at events, and I joined the leadership committee, we started seeing these connections forming at the bank.” He adds that being involved “gets people to share their story. It brings the disability discussion out into the open. Now when we see each other in the office it’s not just ‘how was your weekend’, we are also talking about Special Olympics because people know each other’s stories.”

mike-and-ben

2016 Tournament of Champions at the New England Baseball Complex L-R: Athlete and Board member, Matt Millett; President and CEO, Mary Beth McMahon; VP of Sports, Matt Ruxton; Mike Allard; Ben Allard

Sharing stories around the Avidia Bank water cooler, after this weekend, will be all about dipping into the ice cold waters at the second annual Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Polar Plunge this Saturday, March 4 at the Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, headquarters for Special Olympics Massachusetts. In its second year, the Marlborough Plunge has already exceeded last year’s fundraising total and is quickly approaching the 2017 goal of $10,000 thanks to a number of returning teams and new participants. Funds raised by the 10-person Avidia Bank plunge team and other groups will help provide athletic programming for individuals with intellectual disabilities right here in the metro west area, including the basketball tournament on Sunday where more than 30 teams are participating.

Although this will be a busy weekend for the Allard family it’s all worth it. Through the Allard’s efforts they show by example, that bringing people together to create inclusive communities we can transforming lives through the joy of sport at the local level, every day, with just one person’s initiative.

Find a Polar Plunge near you! Or, if you live in MetroWest, take the plunge here in Marlborough or simply donate to support the LETR Polar Plunge click here NOW!

 

Meet Boston Marathon Runner Reena Shah

Running the 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon will be a first for Reena Shah, Special Olympics Boston Marathon team member. But technically she’s been in training for the last seven year, having completed five half marathons and countless shorter races over those years. And like many of our team members it is something that’s been on her bucket list since she was a child growing up in the Framingham, MA.

“I grew up watching the Boston Marathon runners on the route in Framingham. I also had the opportunity to volunteer in the medical tent as a physical therapy student years back. That gave me the chance to learn about marathon training stories and the history of some of the runners.” Now, as a marathon runner herself, Reena has put what she learned to good use. Keeping track of her daily/weekly runs in a spreadsheet she heads out for long training runs in this New England winter weather with her fellow team mates to stay motivated. Running for such an important cause also keeps her motivated.

Reena’s connection to Special Olympics Massachusetts began years ago. As a physical therapy student she worked with Special Olympics athletes advising them on how to stay healthy and active. It was then that she realized her values of wellness and lifelong exercise aligned with the Special Olympics mission of providing athletes of all abilities a way to stay healthy throughout their lives. Reena continued her connection with Special Olympics by fundraising for and participating every year in the Boston Jolly Jaunt in December. Now a member of the marathon team Reena’s connection continues. “I am so excited to support Special Olympics as a marathon runner. I live by the rule of putting 110% into everything I do. Even if I fail, I know that I did the best I could.”

Cheers to Reena for putting in 110% to achieve her dream and supporting Special Olympics so our athletes can also achieve their dreams.

Support Reena Shah’s Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!

Speed Skating is my Favorite Sport

How many people can say “I’m a 2017 Special Olympics World Games athlete”? Out of the 12,000+  athletes in Massachusetts, only four can. And speed skater Patrick Adams is one of them. An experienced World Games athlete, Adams, previously competed in 2009 World Games in Idaho and the Special Olympics National Games in Iowa. But for Adams the 2017 World Games in Austria was different. Adams wanted to be a part of the 2017 games because “he loves to speed skate and enjoys competing with other athletes from different countries. It is a fun challenge and a great way to meet new people.”

Adams speed skating career started fifteen years ago when a family friend, the Robert family helped him learn to skate and worked with him on his form and technique. Kyle Robert continued to skate with Adams for many years as a unified partner; a unified partner is an individual without an intellectual disability, who trains and competes with a Special Olympics athlete with an intellectual disability. Of all the sports that Adams participates in, he says, “speed skating is my favorite sport.”

Patrick Adams Special Olympics USA training

Patrick working on his Strength at Special Olympics USA Training Camp

Because of his love for the sport, Adams has been working very hard training to prepare for the Games. He practices with his Special Olympics Massachusetts Greater Springfield team once a week on the ice at their skating sessions. He’s also been working weekly with a trainer to help build up his leg strength. In early December Adams joined his Special Olympics USA teammates (over 200 in total!) to participate in the Special Olympics USA World Games team training camp in Killington, Vermont. While at camp the speed skaters worked hard both on ice at skating sessions and off ice at strength sessions. “My favorite part of training camp was getting to meet all my teammates and getting to know everyone,” Adam shared.

Patrick Adams Special Olympics USA Training Camp skating

Patrick Adams taking laps at Special Olympics USA Training Camp

Adams was so excited when he learned he was going to World Games that he, “immediately called my dad and sister to share the great news.” Still very excited to share the experience, his family plans to travel to Austria to cheer on their favorite speed skater. Adam’s immediate family, his dad and sister, as well as a few aunts and uncles will be making the trip. The rest of the family will be checking their messages daily to see how he does in his races. Besides watching his fellow speed skaters, Adams is hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the snowboarding and skiing events. “I grew up skiing with my family so that would be fun to watch,” he said. But the one thing Adams is most looking forward to on his trip is “seeing my teammates and meeting other athletes from around the world. I am so excited to compete.”

And we are excited to watch you compete. Congratulations for Patrick Adams, 2017 Special Olympics World Games speed skater from Massachusetts.

Be sure to follow all of the coverage from Austria on ESPN and ABC:
ESPN’s Groundbreaking Coverage of Special Olympics World Winter Games Begins March 18 From Austria

I Love to Race for Fun and Do My Best

becky“It means a lot to me to show America how hard I’ve worked to develop my skiing ability so that I can represent my country,” shared Rebecca Robinson, 2017 Special Olympics World Games athlete. Becky, as her teammates call her, is one of four Massachusetts athletes representing the United States at World Games in Austria in March. When told she was going, “I felt excited but it took a while for me to realize that I was really going and what an honor it was.”

Receiving such an honor does not come without practice and preparation. Robinson’s serious training began last summer when she, along with teammate Chris O’Neil, attended a national ski training camp at Mount Hood in Oregon. There, she was able to learn from and train with, skiers from around the country. Since then, Robinson has been training off the slopes by attending early morning boot camp classes twice a week, and cross training with yoga and lap swimming . In mid-December, she joined the other members of the Special Olympics World Games team in Killington, Vermont for the World Team training camp. While there Robinson not only got to meet the other members of the alpine ski team, but also, “had some great ski training” as well. After training camp Robinson began hitting the slopes regularly. In addition to training with her race team in Nashoba, she attends ski practices at Mount Wachusett in Princeton, MA and Gunstock Mountain in Guilford, NH, as well as race training at Mount Sunapee in Newbury, NH.

In order to see how far Robinson has come you have to see where she started. Robinson began skiing at the young age of three. For the next fifteen years she skied only occasionally, until she becky2was eighteen and joined the Nashoba Shooting Stars Special Olympics Massachusetts race team. It was then that Robinson realized how much she loved skiing and racing. In thinking of applying for World Games she said, “I love to race for fun and to do my best. It will be a new experience and give me a chance to ski in the Alps with people from around the world.”

Being surrounded by so much positivity is part of what pushed Robinson to this level. For Robinson, her co-workers, teammates, family and friends are such a positive force. “When I told my co-workers at my job that I was going to World Games they were very excited. Many people from my workplace, my Dad’s office, my family, my coaches and teammates have all been very excited and supportive of me. My teammate Chris O’Neil and his family have also been really awesome!”

Having the support of her friends and family means everything to Robinson. That’s why she’s so excited to share her first time out of the country and first time competing a Special Olympics World games with her family. “My parents, older sister, and brother will be going. I like to have them cheering for me.” She’s also interested in spending time in the Olympic Village and the town of Schladming. “I want to take everything in and enjoy some social time with my team. I’m also looking forward to watching the other Alpine racers.” With all these firsts it’s hard not to look ahead to how this experience will change Robinson. When asked that question she sums it up by saying, “After skiing in the Alps, I think I will feel confident skiing anywhere. I think I will feel like I made a big accomplishment, even if I don’t win a medal. In the end I want to feel like I have done my best and had a great time!”

Congratulations to Rebecca Robinson, 2017 Special Olympics World Games athlete!

Be sure to follow all of the coverage from Austria on ESPN and ABC:
ESPN’s Groundbreaking Coverage of Special Olympics World Winter Games Begins March 18 From Austria

Meet Boston Marathon Runner Allie Tearney

Welcome, to Allie Tearney one of our youngest members of the Special Olympics Boston Marathon team. Allie started her career in high school running short races. As a freshman at Vanderbilt University, she tearneystepped it up by racing in half marathons. Last April, as a sophomore in college, she reached the pinnacle of her running career by finishing her first marathon, the Nashville Rock and Roll Marathon in Nashville, TN. But that was not enough. A native of the Boston area, Allie wanted to bring her talents home. “The Boston Marathon is something that has always been close to my heart. I watched it growing up. After the Marathon bombing I promised myself that I would run it on behalf of those who are not able to run themselves.” So running 26.2 miles for Special Olympics athletes was the motivation she was looking for.

Why run for Special Olympics Massachusetts? Allie’s relationship with Special Olympics began when a family member, who has autism, became an athlete in another state. Because of him she wanted to get involved here in Massachusetts. Her first season she worked one-on-one with an athlete playing basketball. She was hooked. “Honestly, Special tearney2Olympics Massachusetts means everything to me. I have been lucky enough to be involved with the organization as a volunteer, coach, and intern for almost 5 years. Now junior in college, majoring in Special Education, I have chosen to devote my life to this population primarily because of my experience at Special Olympics. I could not thank you enough for greatly influencing and changing my life in such a wonderful way.”

Training this time around has been a little easier for Allie. “I am following a plan that I really enjoy. I’m more in shape and better prepared than I was for my first marathon.” What keeps Allie moving during her grueling training runs, is her love for the athletes of Special Olympics Massachusetts. They follow the same motto that she does in life, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Here’s to Allie Tearney and let’s hope all our well wishes help push her over the finish line!

Support Allie Tearney’s Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!