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 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.  For a printable version of our Case for Support, please click here.

Total Fundraising Goal:

$6.5 M

Current Donor Pledges:

$5,064,714

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: Sports

Special Olympics uses the universal appeal of sport to bring people together and create more inclusive communities. It is through sports that people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are provided opportunities to be connected, develop and demonstrate their unique skills and talents, get and stay physically active and fit, and have fun! These important experiences help Special Olympics athletes participate as productive and respected members of society, and raise the public’s understanding and appreciation of their capabilities.

Challenge:

Approximately 16,000 athletes currently participate in Special Olympics programs across Pennsylvania, but we are only reaching 1 out of every 20 individuals who should be part of our sporting community. Additionally, our current athletes need more year-round opportunities to train and compete so they can realize the full benefits that sports provide.

Opportunity:

Special Olympics PA is currently creating nine regional teams of staff and volunteers dedicated to improving our ability to serve more athletes and deliver high quality sports, health and leadership programs across the state.

Campaign Goals

  • Grow our active athlete base to 21,000.
  • Serve over 600 Young Athletes ages 2-7.
  • Recruit 400 new coaches, and increase training.
  • Bring Unified Champion Schools (UCS) programming to nearly 600 elementary, middle and high schools in PA, including public school districts in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and York.
  • Offer intramural Unified Sports at more than 30 Pennsylvania colleges and universities.
  • Offer community-based Unified Sports opportunities across the state of Pennsylvania.

“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: Health

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) face significant health disparities due to inadequate access to healthcare services and fitness & wellness opportunities. This leads to a reduction in overall quality of life, as well as a significantly shortened life span.

Challenge:

People with ID are:

  • 2-4x less likely to be physically active
  • 2x more likely to be obese, have cardiovascular disease and asthma
  • 5x more likely to have diabetes

As a result, their life expectancy is 20 years shorter than for the general population.

Opportunity:

Special Olympics PA saves lives by uncovering undetected health issues and providing access to health care. We deliver fitness/wellness programs that help our athletes live healthier, happier, and ultimately longer lives.

Campaign Goals:

  • Deliver Athlete Performance Training, a comprehensive, year-round sports, fitness, and wellness initiative.
  • Offer 3,300 health screenings at competition events between 2021 and 2024.
  • Engage health care systems and retailers to provide ongoing primary care screenings for athletes.
  • Partner with over 1,000 health care providers trained in working with individuals with ID.

“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: Leadership

Special Olympics empowers individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) to utilize their abilities, find their voices, and develop leadership skills to assume meaningful roles within the Special Olympics movement and in their communities, raising public awareness and opening doors to workplace inclusion.

Challenge:

  • Individuals with ID face higher rates of social isolation and stigmatization, leading to marginalization in their communities.
  • The unemployment rate for people with ID is more than 2x as high as that of the general population.
  • People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty, and earn a median income one-third less than those who do not have a disability.

Opportunity:

Special Olympics PA provides opportunities for people with ID to exercise leadership both within and outside the organization and promote inclusion. Formal training and hands-on leadership roles help athletes develop essential skills to effectively advocate for their rights, maximize their contributions to society, and gain meaningful employment.

Campaign Goals:

  • Activate Global Messengers to raise awareness about the organization and create inclusive communities.
  • 170 athletes will graduate from Athlete Leadership University between 2021 and 2024.
  • Athletes serving as health & fitness coordinators and sports team captains will engage fellow athletes in improved fitness, sport performance, and health practices.
  • The Center for Unified Leadership will sponsor and conduct research to evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of our leadership development programs.

“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.

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
  • Dan Kolb
    Special Olympics PA Athlete
  • 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
  • Greg Focht
    Special Olympics PA Athlete
  • 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

"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

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.

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