The Special Olympics is an organization that I have always admired. Its incredible athletes remind me that we can do anything we put our minds to, that we all have special strengths and gifts and that we are all in this thing called life togher.
The Special Olympics is near and dear to our hearts at BostonMan Magazine and I was lucky enough to speak with Catherine Twing at Special Olympics Massachusetts to learn more about what exactly they have going on and how our community can help keep this incredible program going and thriving. Let’s get to know them a little better!
The Special Olympics was originally founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968 and shortly after, in 1971, Massachusetts founded their very own program. Twing of the Massachusetts branch shared with us that their mission is to “provide athletes of all ages with opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendships with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”
All year round they provide sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Massachusetts. During a typical year, an astounding 24 sports are offered and over 500 competitions are held. With our entire world looking a little different this year, they have had to adjust their programming but were not deterred. Instead of the usual in-person activities, a variety of virtual programs including weekly virtual live fitness, athlete chats via Zoom and online trivia all took place. They also run a spectacular virtual golf program called the “Gold Medal Golf Challenge” where participants golf on their own time and submit their scores to see how they match up against Tyler Lagasse, a Special Olympics athlete and 3x USA Games silver medalist. People can visit specialolympicsma.org/fundraisewithus to learn more about the golf challenge and also how they can get started creating their own event.
Every year in the sunshine of June, Boston University and Harvard Athletic Complex are home to the largest annual event, The Summer Games. The summer games is the season ending tournament for all spring season sports. This year the tradition was kept alive through virtual challenges at home such as long jump and tennis ball throw while being featured in video segments on the organization’s social media pages and YouTube channel.
Special Olympics Massachusetts relies heavily on the involvement and support of our communities. Twing explains that they are “ investing in the idea that everyone belongs” and they invite everyone in the Commonwealth to join in and experience inclusion, sign me up! One of their biggest fundraising Programs is the The Law Enforcement Torch Run program. LETR is an international program in which law enforcement officers fundraise for Special Olympics. In Massachusetts alone, officers raised $735,000 last year and attended dozens of events where they handed out medals and met athletes. Some of these events include Polar Plunges, Tip A Cop, and Cop on Top events.
Are you as ready to get involved as I am? Catherine let us know how you can get involved today. “We’re always looking for donations, but more than that we’re looking to the community to host small, socially distant events such as corn hole tournaments, golf events or any kind of virtual benefit they can think of.We are also looking for season long volunteers to work directly with teams in coaching positions, and also in support staff roles. In accordance with new guidelines, everyone at practices or events need to be screened so we are looking for volunteers to help with this as well.”
Thank you to everyone at Special Olympics Massachusetts for bringing such a high spirited community together. If you are interested in becoming involved you can reach out to us at BostonMan Magazine or you can follow any of the means of communication below!
Facebook: @Special Olympics Massachusetts
Alexandra Marcello is the Non-Profit Coordinator for BostonMan Magazine. A lifelong philanthropist, Ally also balances her time as a model, actress, television host and real estate agent. If you have a non-profit or charitable cause you would like to have featured in BostonMan, please reach out to Ally here.