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February NEWSLETTER

Winter Games Presented by Eversource Coming Up
February 26th and 27th

Special Olympics CT Skiers
We look forward to holding our 2022 Winter Games presented by Eversource on Saturday, February 26th and Sunday, February 27th. Our cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be hosted by Eversource in Windsor on Saturday where they'll race upon snow created by a dedicated team of Eversource volunteers and our alpine skiers will compete at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort in Middlefield both days. As indoor practices were suspended due to Covid, floor hockey competition has been postponed to Saturday, Martch 12th and will take place at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford.

We congratulate our Winter Games athletes on their season of training and thank their dedicated coaches for encouraging them and preparing them for the Games!
2022 Winter Games Sponsors
Unified Teammates from Shelton High School
Will Compete at the USA Games

Matt Darak
Matt Darak
Sophia Fabian
Sophia Fabian
Ciara Foley
Ciara Foley
Josiah Kellogg
Josiah Kellogg
Jason
Jason "Jay" Loh
Kelly Stanley
Kelly Stanley
Tyler Smith
Tyler Smith
Danielle Turcotte
Danielle Turcotte
Coach Karen Devonshuk
Coach Karen Devonshuk
Coach Michael Gambardella
Coach Michael Gambardella 
We are pleased to announce that we will be sending Unified Sports teammates from Shelton High School to participate in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida, June 5th - 12th. Matt Darak, Sophia Fabian, Ciara Foley, Josiah Kellogg, Jay Loh, Kelly Stanley, Tyler Smith and Danielle Turcotte will be competing in track & field at the event.
Matt says “I look forward to meeting new people and having fun with everyone (at the Games)." Along with track & field, his interests include playing video games, reading, and hanging out with friends.
Sophia is happy to have the opportunity to compete at the Games and says she’s looking forward to “being a part of something so great and helping people.”
Ciara has been participating in the Special Olympics Unified Sports® program for three years and, along with participating in track & field, plays basketball. She also loves to dance! Ciara says she’s excited to be “part of an international organization that supports inclusion and differences.”
Josiah has been a member of his school’s Unified team for two years. In addition to track & field, he enjoys music, video games and reading the Bible. His thoughts on going to the USA Games? “I want to have fun and win,” says Josiah.
In addition to participating in Unified track this year, Jay is on his school’s cross-country team. His feelings about going to the Games? “I look forward to making new friends and helping as much as I can,” he says.
Kelly has been participating in Special Olympics track & field for six years. Her other pastimes include baking and cooking, babysitting and getting exercise by walking and weightlifting.
Kelly says, “I am honored to represent my school at the 2022 USA Games. I am nervous but I am also excited. I look forward to Florida and the excitement of the Games.” 
When he’s not training with Shelton’s track & field team, Tyler spends his time boxing, wrestling, playing basketball and watching TV. What are Tyler’s thoughts on going to the Games? “I look forward to the opportunity to do my best to represent my school, my family and community. I hope to meet interesting people and make new friends. This opportunity makes me proud to have been chosen,” he says.
Danielle has been with Special Olympics for six years. In addition to track and field, Danielle participates in bowling, basketball, swimming and cheer. Her other interests include karate and ice hockey. Danielle plans to enjoy her visit to Florida for the Games and says, “I am excited to go to Disney World with my family and friends."
Shelton High School Unified Sports Coaches Karen Devonshuk and Michael Gambardella are helping these teammates prepare for competition and will accompany them to Orlando for the Games.
Jump in the Fun at a Penguin Plunge
Penguin Plunge Special Olympics CT New Britain Police Department's Penguin Plunge
Join in one of our upcoming Penguin Plunges by registering at www.soct.org/plunge. Participants of the Plunge, at all locations, will jump into the chilly waters of a lake or Long Island Sound to support sports and health programs for our athletes and to create communities that accept and include people of all abilities. 
Upcoming Penguin Plunge events include the:
Middletown Penguin Plunge at the Polish Falcons Club on Saturday, February 26th, Reg: 10 a.m.; Plunge: 12 p.m.
Shoreline Penguin Plunge at Ocean Beach Park in New London, on Sunday, March 6th, Reg: 10 a.m.; Plunge: 12 p.m. 
NEW! Brookfield Penguin Plunge at Brookfield Town Park on Saturday, March 19th, Reg: 11:30 a.m.; Plunge: 1 p.m. 
NEW! Tolland Penguin Plunge at Crandall Park on Saturday, March 26th, Reg: 11 a.m.; Plunge: 12 p.m.
Fairfield Penguin Plunge at Jennings Beach on Saturday, April 2nd, Reg: 12 p.m.; Plunge: 1 p.m.
Plunge at the Park at Wolfe Park in Monroe on Saturday, April 2nd, Reg: 12 p.m.; Plunge: 1 p.m.

Annual Awards Dinner Set for March 29th
Our Annual Awards Dinner to celebrate individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to Special Olympics and athletes who exemplify the spirit of our organization will take place at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville on Tuesday, March 29th at 5 p.m.
Keynote speakers will include Loretta Claiborne, Chief Inspiration Officer for Special Olympics International and Abby Snyder, Special Olympics Connecticut Global Messenger. Special Guests will include Renee DiNino from iHeart Radio and Ryan Hanrahan from NBC Connecticut.
To purchase tickets or tables please click here. If you are a local program, please contact Kelli Bigelow at kellib@soct.org for tickets. The cost is $50 for athletes, $100 for individuals and $1000 for tables.
To address the ongoing risks of COVID-19, our Organization’s safety protocols require all guest be vaccinated or have a negative antigen test within 24 hours of the event. Masking and social distancing will be observed and attendance limited to 60% of capacity (600 guests).
Board Members Recognized
Michelle Zettergren
Michelle Zettergren
Lynn LaRocca
Lynn LaRocca
Susan Saint James
Susan Saint James
Kit Geis
Kit Geis
Outgoing Board Members Susan Saint James, Michelle Zettergren and Lynn LaRocca were recognized for their years of service and Kit Geis welcomed as a new member during the Board's Annual Meeting.
Susan Saint James served three nine-year terms on our Board of Directors. She served as Volunteer Chairperson of the 1995 World Games in New Haven and was invited to join the Special Olympics International Board of Directors by Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She later joined the Board in Connecticut and founded the annual Susan Saint James Poker Tournament at Foxwoods to support our athletes. 
During her more than ten years on the Board, Michelle Zettergren served as Development Chair, Board Management Chair and Chair of the Board of Directors. She was instrumental in securing support our Unified Sports in schools program, hosted a President's Award reception and volunteered as a timer during our Summer Games track & field competition. Here leadership helped carry us through the first year of the pandemic.
Lynn LaRocca served as Development Chair during her nine years as a member of the Board. She also helped to secure the very first sponsorship of our Unified Sports in schools program and did a live interview about Special Olympics during a Rex Sox Game. She was a great asset during her time with us who helped through networking and sharing her marketing expertise. 
Special Olympics CT is proud to welcome Kit Geis as the newest member of our Board of Directors. Kit is Chief Client Officer and General Manager of its New York office of Genesco Sports Enterprises (GSE), a company she's worked with since 2000. She is a strategic marketing expert, having created and directed client sponsorship and event programs to leverage fan passion. Kit is proficient in negotiating, planning and activating the largest sports sponsorships – highlighted by the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show and an agency-record 6 official NFL partners. 
We are grateful for all of these talented and caring leaders.
SOCT Staff Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries
Special Olympics Connecticut staff members Katie Dennett and Kristen Mengold were recently recognized for their dedication to Special Olympics Connecticut and years of service - ten and five, respectively.
As a member of our Sports staff, Katie ran our softball and Unified basketball events and oversaw the planning of our Southern Time Trials. She moved into the role of Director of Corporate Development last year and has since focused on enriching the experience for our corporate partners and creating new partnerships.
Kristen came to Special Olympics CT five years ago with a strong foundation in development. Kristen secures funding and in-kind contributions to provide our athletes with the equipment, resources and opportunities they require to be successful in sports and in life. She also coordinates Champion Society and President's Awards events and ensures our donors feel appreciated and involved and know they are making a difference.
Please Share Your Input
Your opinion means a great deal to us. Will you take a few minutes to share your thoughts by completing our online survey? Your responses will help us understand what is important to you, so together we can provide children and adults with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in sharing gifts, skills and friendships.
You can complete the survey online at https://bit.ly/3LdcxvO. Thank you!
Ion Bank Customers - Help Us Get Grant Money!
The Ion Bank Foundation Community Awards Program gives away $70,000 to local non-profit organizations with each Ion Bank customer eligible to vote for their favorite non-profit organization.
Voting has begun for the 13th Annual Community Awards Program so please help us earn grant money! We will receive a $25 donation from the Ion Bank Foundation for every vote1 we receive!
Every vote counts! If you are an Ion Bank customer, please visit https://cap.ionbank.com/CAP/CAP.aspx to vote for Special Olympics Connecticut by March 15, 2022. 
Voting is open to all Ion Bank customers. One vote per customer, however, for accounts with multiple owners, each owner may vote. Customers with multiple accounts may only vote once. Each customer can vote for only one organization.
Become a Member of Our Champion's Society
It's Easy to Plan for the Future with These Free Resources
If you're like many people, creating or updating your will or trust and other important documents often falls to the bottom of your 'to do' list. We have made it easy for you to get started today with free publications to help you get organized and complete your plans while gaining peace of mind: https://solegacygiving.org/resources
Special Olympics Unified Sports® in schools is made possible through Special Olympics Connecticut’s partnership with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC). Sponsors include: 


We welcome your feedback and contributions. Contact us at 203-230-1201 or specialolympicsct@soct.org.

Partner Sponsors

Bozzuto's Inc. The Hometown Foundation Enterprise Logo
ESPN logo Eversource Logo Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation Logo
Torch Run Logo NBC CT and Telemundo CT TD Bank logo
Ratheon Technologies Logo WWE Logo

Year-Round Suppliers

Adams Hometown Markets/IGA Hometown Supermarkets
Coca Cola Beverages Northeast
Marcus Communications
N&D Sports
State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Community Service
WORX