Special Olympics PA Athletes Compete In Fulton County
With much excitement in the air, Fulton County athletes took to the court to play in their first-ever bocce ball competition in front of a home crowd of about 150 fans at McConnellsburg Alumni and Friends building. Kaitlin Mellott began the ceremony with the singing of the national anthem.
Casey Englert - gold medal; Luther Murray - silver medal; Jesse Graham - bronze medal.
Honorary players: Chelsi Hann - gold medal; Logan Crouse - silver medal; Rodney Buterbaugh Jr. - bronze medal; and Michael Vanderweele - fourth place.
The athletes have been training at their schools for the past several months. Each school was given a bocce ball court through a grant from the Krivak Trust. The trust is administered through Franklin/Fulton MHID for residents of Fulton County with intellectual disabilities.
To add to the excitement, all three schools brought their courts so the public could get in on the action. The middle court was the Special Olympics athletes designated field of play but on either side were families pitted against each other, knocking each other out until the final round. Finalists were Nicole Ligtner, Laci Carbaugh, Bryan Streletz, Hoyt Glenn, Jonah Peck , Danielle Schooley and Imagine Cubbage.
Also on hand were area healthcare agencies Fulton County Medical Center, Fulton County Center for Families, Fulton County Food Basket and Special Olympics. All had tables set up in the hallway to provide helpful information to area families.
Matt Aaron, president and CEO of Special Olympics, said of the event, “It is important that we provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to participate in Special Olympics regardless of where they live in PA. So, I am particularly thrilled and grateful to our volunteers and the entire community for their hard work and support in re-establishing our program in Fulton County. It was wonderful to be a part of their first competition, and I look forward to many more great things to come.” Joining Matt was Central PA senior field representative Rich Lewis. When asked what’s next for the athletes, Lewis stated, “Next year we will want to start training at the beginning of the school year and maybe the adults can start in August, and they will have several opportunities to compete outside of Fulton County at Area M in Hershey at the Italian Club, SOPA Fall Sectional at Juniata College, the Bocce Bash at Bloomsburg and at SOPA’s Fall Sports competition at Villanova University in early November.”
Fulton County meetings are held the third Thursday of every month at the Mc- Connellsburg Alumni and Friends at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. If you are interested in coaching this sport, or would like to volunteer please contact local manager Mindi Graham at (717) 816-5771.
Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) provides yearround sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities; a cognitive delay, or a development disability, that is, functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills. For more information please visit the Web site at www.specialolympics.com.