Special Olympics Pennsylvania

Join our Team. Change the Game. Unify the World.

Join our Team. Change the Game. Unify the World.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania is proud to be a pioneer in a movement for global change. As we approach our 50th anniversary, we are leading the revolution to engage, empower, and transform our communities to ensure full inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities. Through our pursuit, we will make the world kinder, gentler, and more just for all people.

We know what it will take to accomplish our ambitious goals. But, we need you to be a game-changer to help us make it happen. As we look ahead to the next 50 years, we want you to be part of our campaign for the next generation.

Total Fundraising Goal:

$6.5 M

Current Donor Pledges:

$2,845,315

We are not just athletes.
We are the ambassadors of change for a better world.
We stand with other great athletes who, like us, used sports to convey hope, unity, and acceptance.
Jackie Robinson. Billie Jean King. Loretta Claiborne.

Our demands are equality, dignity, and the recognition of our shared humanity.
We will not stop or accept anything less. We are deserving.
When we compete, we’re fighting for a more inclusive world.
We are the champions on the field and for this cause.

Today, our world is more divided than ever;
coming together has never been more urgent.
This is an Inclusion Revolution. It’s going to take all of us.

How will you join us?

We are not just athletes.
We are the ambassadors of change for a better world.
We stand with other great athletes who, like us, used sports to convey hope, unity, and acceptance.
Jackie Robinson. Billie Jean King. Loretta Claiborne.

Our demands are equality, dignity, and the recognition of our shared humanity.
We will not stop or accept anything less. We are deserving.
When we compete, we’re fighting for a more inclusive world.
We are the champions on the field and for this cause.

Today, our world is more divided than ever;
coming together has never been more urgent.
This is an Inclusion Revolution. It’s going to take all of us.

How will you join us?

Pillar 1: Unified Sports

We will create a unified world by promoting inclusion, uniting communities, and changing attitudes. We will bring together individuals with and without intellectual disabilities as equal teammates in training and competition. We will build fully inclusive schools and communities, promote respect and acceptance, and facilitate meaningful relationships between people of all abilities.

Challenge:

Children with disabilities are 2-3x more likely to be bullied than their peers without disabilities.

Opportunity:

86% of school staff surveyed nationally believe the Unified Sports program makes a big impact in reducing bullying and teasing in their schools.

Campaign Goals

  • Double the number of unified sports schools in Pennsylvania by the end of 2020, bringing together individuals with and without intellectual disabilities as equal teammates in training and competition.
  • Engage college students and young adult special olympics athletes in unified sports intramural programs at an additional 10 Pennsylvania universities and colleges.
  • Offer unified sports to all 55 local Special Olympics Pennsylvania programs in the near future.

“Megan and I became friends when she joined Unified Track and Field my sophomore year. She is a good friend, a nice person, and is always kind to everyone. I am happy I got to know Megan through Unified Sports!”

Kevin Lezynski Special Olympics athlete, Souderton Area High School’s Unified Sports teamsSpecial Olympics athlete, Souderton Area High School’s Unified Sports teams

“Kevin is so upbeat and positive, and I know he is always there for me. It’s a friendship that has positively impacted my life. Kevin has pushed me to set high goals and take the extra step towards my achievements.”

Megan O'Donnell Unified partner, Souderton Area High School’s Unified Track team

“Unified Sports has been a game changer for students with and without disabilities. Kevin is genuinely appreciated and a loved member of an inclusive community, and he is accepted for exactly who he is every day.”

Nancy Lezynski Mother of Kevin Lezynski

“Megan and I became friends when she joined Unified Track and Field my sophomore year. She is a good friend, a nice person, and is always kind to everyone. I am happy I got to know Megan through Unified Sports!”

Kevin Lezynski Special Olympics athlete, Souderton Area High School’s Unified Sports teamsSpecial Olympics athlete, Souderton Area High School’s Unified Sports teams

“Kevin is so upbeat and positive, and I know he is always there for me. It’s a friendship that has positively impacted my life. Kevin has pushed me to set high goals and take the extra step towards my achievements.”

Megan O'Donnell Unified partner, Souderton Area High School’s Unified Track team

“Unified Sports has been a game changer for students with and without disabilities. Kevin is genuinely appreciated and a loved member of an inclusive community, and he is accepted for exactly who he is every day.”

Nancy Lezynski Mother of Kevin Lezynski

Pillar 2: Healthy Athletes/
Healthy Communities

We will improve the overall health, quality of life, and access to care for people with intellectual disabilities. We must strive to help them overcome the discrimination, isolation, and fear that lead to an increased risk of chronic pain, disease, blindness, hearing loss, and premature death.

Challenge:

People with intellectual disabilities are 2x more likely to die before the age of 50 than adults without intellectual disabilities.

Opportunity:

Special Olympics, the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities, saves lives by discovering unknown health issues and providing health care that otherwise would not be available.

Campaign Goals:

  • Implement "Fit 5," a year-round, holistic wellness initiative that helps special olympics athletes eat right and stay fit.
  • Expand healthy habits, a successful preventative health education initiative, to 10 additional special olympics Pennsylvania competitions.
  • Identify preventable or treatable health conditions by increasing health screenings to reach a total of 1,200 athletes per year.
  • Help athletes receive follow-up care after their health screening by creating a health provider referral network.

“The health and welfare of my two daughters, Roz and Maddie, have improved greatly through their involvement with Special Olympics Pennsylvania. They stay active and strengthen their hearts and muscles through their health programs. Educational activities have taught them how to make smart decisions about what to eat, to drink plenty of water, and the importance of year-round physical activity. And, both have gone through all of the Healthy Athletes screenings and had vision and dental issues detected. The Special Olympics health programs have a significant and positive impact on the lives of my daughters. Roz and Maddie are healthier and happier because of their participation and continue to learn what they need to do to help themselves. Every Special Olympics athlete in the state should have these same life-improving opportunities.”

Mary Pitzer Mother of Special Olympics athletes Roz and Maddie

“The health and welfare of my two daughters, Roz and Maddie, have improved greatly through their involvement with Special Olympics Pennsylvania. They stay active and strengthen their hearts and muscles through their health programs. Educational activities have taught them how to make smart decisions about what to eat, to drink plenty of water, and the importance of year-round physical activity. And, both have gone through all of the Healthy Athletes screenings and had vision and dental issues detected. The Special Olympics health programs have a significant and positive impact on the lives of my daughters. Roz and Maddie are healthier and happier because of their participation and continue to learn what they need to do to help themselves. Every Special Olympics athlete in the state should have these same life-improving opportunities.”

Mary Pitzer Mother of Special Olympics athletes Roz and Maddie

Pillar 3: Athlete Leadership

We will bring leadership to life by developing athlete leaders who can help guide the Special Olympics movement into the future, by empowering Special Olympics athletes to become effective self-advocates, by ensuring that people with intellectual disabilities gain meaningful employment, and by engaging organizations that open doors to workplace inclusion.

Challenge:

The unemployment rate for people with intellectual disabilities is more than 2x as high as that of the general population.

Opportunity:

Adults with intellectual disabilities who have participated in Special Olympics are nearly 2x as likely to be employed as peers who have not been involved.

Campaign Goals:

  • Launch the movement's first "Center for Inclusive Leadership" in collaboration with university, corporate and national though leaders.
  • Build organization partnerships and program models to increase employment opportunities and training experiences for Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes.
  • Quadruple the number of athletes who complete introductory athlete leadership university coursework, and triple the number of athletes who complete more advanced coursework.
  • Develop advanced athlete leadership training modules to better equip athletes with self-advocacy and decision-making skills.
  • Empower athletes as peer role models by increasing the number of athletes who are trained as athlete leadership university instructors.

“Throughout high school I was made fun of by my peers and told by teachers that I was not going to graduate. I got involved with Special Olympics Pennsylvania at age 16 and was given a chance to be an Athlete Representative. That took me from wanting to hide in the shadows to wanting to set an example for my fellow athletes, to lead them and take them under my wing. A few years later, I was chosen to be the Chair of the 2016 Athlete Congress. We worked hard and made recommendations to the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Board Of Directors to improve the organization. Because of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, I now live on my own and advocate for myself and other athletes. There are no limits for me now!”

Ernie Roundtree Ernie is a Special Olympics athlete from Monroe County. Now a young adult, Ernie was voted by his fellow athletes to chair the 2016 Athlete Congress at Penn State University. He is also a dynamic speaker and an avid runner who continues to excel both on and off the playing fields.

“Throughout high school I was made fun of by my peers and told by teachers that I was not going to graduate. I got involved with Special Olympics Pennsylvania at age 16 and was given a chance to be an Athlete Representative. That took me from wanting to hide in the shadows to wanting to set an example for my fellow athletes, to lead them and take them under my wing. A few years later, I was chosen to be the Chair of the 2016 Athlete Congress. We worked hard and made recommendations to the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Board Of Directors to improve the organization. Because of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, I now live on my own and advocate for myself and other athletes. There are no limits for me now!”

Ernie Roundtree Ernie is a Special Olympics athlete from Monroe County. Now a young adult, Ernie was voted by his fellow athletes to chair the 2016 Athlete Congress at Penn State University. He is also a dynamic speaker and an avid runner who continues to excel both on and off the playing fields.

Pillar 4: Get off the sidelines

We will provide better quality programs to more individuals with intellectual disabilities. We will ensure that everyone with an intellectual disability in Pennsylvania has equal access to the unifying power of sports. And we will create new programs and competitive opportunities to accelerate our progress.

Challenge:

For every individual currently being served by Special Olympics Pennsylvania, there are 19 more we have yet to reach.

Opportunity:

Special Olympics Pennsylvania continues to change the lives of a growing number of people with intellectual disabilities through year-round sports, health, education, and community building. Approximately 18,000 athletes compete at more than 500 annual competitions with the help of over 30,000 coaches and volunteers.

Campaign Goals:

  • Recruit 3,000 new athletes and 500 new coaches in Pennsylvania.
  • Launch a new Special Olympics indoor winter games competition for more than 900 athletes.
  • Double the number of participants in the Special Olympics Young Athletes program, and early childhood sports-play program for children ages 2 to 7 years old with intellectual disabilities.

“I love everything about Special Olympics. Getting involved took me out of my box and allowed me to step out and step up on my ladder to reach higher. I’ve been participating since I was 14. I compete in so many sports—equestrian, track and field, softball, skiing and floor hockey. I tell my fellow athletes that if I can do it, they can do it. Keep working and keep smiling. Do the best you can and train as hard as you can. The sky is open for me and for all of us to achieve our dreams!”

Christa Mereen Christa is a Special Olympics Pennsylvania Global Messenger Athlete from Bedford County. When she was almost one year old, Christa’s parents were told by doctors that their daughter would likely never walk or talk. But through faith, determination, family and Special Olympics, Christa (now in her twenties) is a dynamic speaker and a terrific athlete.

“I love everything about Special Olympics. Getting involved took me out of my box and allowed me to step out and step up on my ladder to reach higher. I’ve been participating since I was 14. I compete in so many sports—equestrian, track and field, softball, skiing and floor hockey. I tell my fellow athletes that if I can do it, they can do it. Keep working and keep smiling. Do the best you can and train as hard as you can. The sky is open for me and for all of us to achieve our dreams!”

Christa Mereen Christa is a Special Olympics Pennsylvania Global Messenger Athlete from Bedford County. When she was almost one year old, Christa’s parents were told by doctors that their daughter would likely never walk or talk. But through faith, determination, family and Special Olympics, Christa (now in her twenties) is a dynamic speaker and a terrific athlete.

Pillar 5: Cities of Inclusion

We will make our cities more welcoming and accepting for people with intellectual disabilities, with an initial focus on Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and York. We will work with partners to address every aspect of our athletes’ lives: education, employment, health, housing, and access to information and services.

Challenge:

People with intellectual disabilities are the largest disability group in the world, and many are socially isolated and lack meaningful social connections.

Opportunity:

A city of inclusion is an urban community that values everyone and ensures that people of all abilities can be involved in their communities, effectively pursue opportunities and contribute, safely express themselves, and exercise their rights. These cities enable everyone to take part in education and employment and access health and community services.

Campaign Goals:

  • In alliance with school district partners, create socially inclusive elementary, middle, and high schools employing our unified champion schools and other unified programs.
  • Expand from 32 Philadelphia and Pittsburgh schools to 240 schools throughout Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and York.
  • Partner with city parks and recreation departments to expand our training sites and offer more unified sports and unified fitness programs.
  • Leverage existing relationships and build new partnerships to improve access to health services, expand fitness and wellness programs, and address issues such as adequate housing and employment.

"Sports have always been my saving grace and a way for me to feel like I belonged, even when everyone else was telling me I didn’t. Sports can bring people together from different backgrounds and experiences and make a community whole. I truly believe that sports saved my life, and I wouldn’t be here today without it."

Loretta Clairborne Special Olympics Pennsylvania athlete, Inclusion Revolution Campaign Co-chair, Special Olympics International Board Member, and lifelong resident of York, Pennsylvania

"Sports have always been my saving grace and a way for me to feel like I belonged, even when everyone else was telling me I didn’t. Sports can bring people together from different backgrounds and experiences and make a community whole. I truly believe that sports saved my life, and I wouldn’t be here today without it."

Loretta Clairborne Special Olympics Pennsylvania athlete, Inclusion Revolution Campaign Co-chair, Special Olympics International Board Member, and lifelong resident of York, Pennsylvania

Eastern Campaign Committee:

  • Marc Bruno
    Aramark
  • David Campoli
    The RMR Group
  • Peter Cooke, Jr.
    Cooke and Berlinger Jewelers
  • Tony Gillespie
    Retired (American Express)
  • Colleen Holt-McCauley
    Attorney
  • Anna McDonough
    Cozen O’Connor
  • Greg McShea
    Janney
  • Diana Paterno – Giegerich
    Entrepreneur
  • Jim Peters
    Skyward Health
  • Chris Ritchie
    Huntington Bank
  • David Rosenberg
    Philanthropist
  • Dick Vermeil, Campaign Spokesman
    Retired (NFL Head Coach)

Central Campaign Committee:

  • Jake Armstrong
    Geisinger Health System
  • Loretta Claiborne, Campaign Co-Chair
    Special Olympics, Inc.
  • Dick DeFluri
    Abundance Wealth
  • Bruce Heim
    Keystone Real Estate Group
  • Cathy and Tony Misitano
    Post Acute Medical
  • William Oldsey
    Retired (Educational Publishing Exec.)
  • Sue Paterno, Campaign Co-Chair
    Philanthropist
  • Robert Poole
    Poole Construction
  • Kellee and Sam Terroso
    Industrial Vendor Reduction Inc.
  • Jim Wenner
    Sheetz, Inc.
  • Jane Zimmerman
    Philanthropist

Western Campaign Committee:

  • Shannon Barry
    Morgan Stanley
  • Dr. James Bradley
    Orthopedic Surgery Specialist
  • Tom Bradley
    Pittsburgh Steelers Coaching Staff
  • Dr. Robert Capretto
    Oak Hill Holdings
  • Dr. Robert Schilken
    Allegheny Health Network
  • Deputy Jason Tarap
    Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office
  • Michael Trettel
    iiCON Construction Group
  • Chris Weiss
    Aerotek

Join the Inclusion Revolution

To donate by mail, please download the pledge form (make checks payable to Special Olympics Pennsylvania) and send to: Attn: Inclusion Revolution Campaign, Special Olympics Pennsylvania, 2570 Blvd of the Generals, Suite 124, Norristown, PA 19403.

For additional information, please fill out the form below.