Floor Hockey, Traditional Basketball Events Reunite Athletes

Floor Hockey Traditional Basketball Tournament
Winter Games continued with Floor Hockey returning to Pratt & Whitney on March 12th. Though a modified version of the event and postponed due to Covid restrictions, enthusiasm and excitement filled the rinks! 

Also in March, nineteen teams and individual athletes who competed in skills participated in our Traditional Basketball Tournament on Saturday, March 26th. The event was held at Holy Cross High School, Kennedy High School, Post University, Reed Elementary School, Waterbury PAL and West Side Middle School, all of Waterbury. Local programs represented include Ability Beyond, Danbury, East Hartford, Griswold, Marrakech, Naugatuck, Tri-Town, Trumbull, Waterbury, Waterbury PAL and West Hartford.
Unified Teams Takeover Mohegan Sun!
Unified Basketball Teams at Mohegan Sun
What better way to mark the 30th anniversary of Special Olympics CT's partnership with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association (CIAC) this year than to have an amazing weekend of Unified high school basketball at Mohegan Sun! High school teams from across the state played Unified exhibition games at halftime during the CIAC championships on March 19th and 20th. High schools represented include Cromwell, Shelton, Simsbury, Norwich Free Academy, Derby, Maloney (Meriden), Newington, Valley Regional (Deep River), Bristol Central, Waterford, Pomperaug, Oxford, Granby and Bloomfield. To watch a recap, click here.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® in schools is made possible through Special Olympics Connecticut’s partnership with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC). Sponsors include:
Unified Sports Sponsors
Gymnasts, Swimmers Will Compete at the Special Olympics USA Games
Addison Penna
Addison Penna
Andrea DeBarnardo
Andrea DeBarnardo
Nadia Zafar
Nadia Zafar
Christine Costantino
Coach Christine Costantino
We're delighted to share that Special Olympics CT Gymnasts Andrea DeBernardo, Addison Penna and Nadia Zafar, led by Coach Christine Costantino, will compete at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, June 5th - 12th.
Andrea is an athlete with the Connecticut Tumblers program who "loves" to participate in gymnastics and swimming with Special Olympics. She is also a member of her high school gymnastics team. When she's not on the balance beam or in the pool, Andrea enjoys cooking, baking, boating, going to the beach and participating in the equestrian program at High Hopes in Old Lyme.
Andrea is excited to represent Connecticut at the USA Games and hopes to win a gold medal. She looks forward to becoming friends with her teammates and getting to know Special Olympics athletes from across the country. She also hopes to take a spin in the teacup amusement ride at Disney World - her favorite!
Addison is an athlete with our Connecticut Tumblers local program and has participated in Special Olympics for seven years. In addition to practicing her gymnastics routines, Addison enjoys reading, cooking, baking and dancing. 
"Going to the Games means that I can show people my love for gymnastics. I look forward to meeting new people and seeing all the other athletes," she says. 
Nadia is an athlete with our Connecticut Tumblers local program who's participated in Special Olympics for seven years. In addition to gymnastics, she has participated in track & field. Nadia's favorite pastimes include reading books and watching Anime videos.
Nadia says, "I want to go to the 2022 USA Games to have fun and compete in gymnastics. I look forward to going to Disney World."
Stephen Emblidge
Stephen Emblidge
William Geanuracos
William Geanuracos
Lia Muchin
Lia Muchin
Anna Reagle
Anna Reagle
Heather Minervini
Coach Heather Minervini
James Geanuracos
Coach James Geanuracos
We're also pleased to share that Stephen Emblidge, William Geanuracos, Lia Muchin and Anna Reagle will compete in swimming at the USA Games. They are coached by Heather Minervini and James Geanuracos.
Stephen has been involved in Special Olympics for 25 years and is a member of our Special Olympics Groton team. When Stephen goes to Orlando in June, it will mark the second time he's competed in swimming at a Special Olympics USA Games event - he also participated in the Games in Seattle in 2018.
In addition to swimming, Stephen trains and competes in bowling, golf, and floor hockey. He also participates in Special Olympics' Healthy Athletes program. Stephen was recognized as Special Olympics Connecticut's Athlete of the Year with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Award in 2019. Stephen's other interests include football, baseball and NASCAR racing. He also enjoys long walks - 30,000+ steps every day.
"I love to compete and to see all the people from all over the country," Stephen says.
William, a Special Olympics athlete for 24 years, is a member of our Mid-State local program. Along with swimming, William - or Will as he prefers to be called - participates in alpine skiing, bowling, corn hole and Unified basketball. He was honored with the Spirit of Life Award for exemplifying the spirit, courage and joy of Special Olympics. When he's not in the pool, Will enjoys music, movies, dancing, fishing, spin classes, Star Wars and video games.
"I look forward to working my hardest and meeting other athletes from Connecticut and the US," says Will. "I will be proud to be on the Connecticut team."
Lia is an athlete with our West Hartford local program who has participated in Special Olympics in Connecticut for ten years. Prior to that, she was active with Special Olympics in California for four years. In addition to swimming, she participates in bowling, and basketball. She competed in swimming at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle in 2018, where she won silver and bronze medals. Along with swimming, Lia "loves to knit" scarves and blankets and walk her dog, Avalon, daily. She says her job at a clothing store is fun and she also likes to play games with her family, listen to music and watch TV.
"Attending the USA Games in 2022 is a great opportunity to be a part of something incredible. It is the chance of a lifetime," she says. "What I am looking forward to the most is the opening ceremony and what music they will play. I am also looking forward to the competition, dances and team dinners. It's not just about winning, it's about having fun," Lia adds.
Anna has been a Special Olympics athlete for ten years and for seven of those years, has trained and competed in swimming. She's also participated in gymnastics as a member of our Central-Shoreline team. In addition to her Special Olympics experience, Anna was on her high school swim team and served as co-captain during her senior year. In addition to doing laps in the pool, Anna enjoys dancing, singing, kickboxing, spending time with friends and going out to eat! "I am obsessed with healthy eating and cooking," she says. Anna also values time spent with relatives. "I always love to be with my close and extended family, especially my brother and cousins," she shares.
"This (going to the USA Games) is very special to me. It is the result of years and years of swimming in pools and it is an honor to be included with the best of the best. I am excited to represent my state of Connecticut. I look forward to getting to know Team Connecticut and the whole experience of (making) new friends," Anna says.
Thank you, Jersey Mike's Subs!
Jersey Mike's Jersey Mike's
Jersey Mike's Jersey Mike's
Throughout the month of March, store owners and employees at the 29 Jersey Mike's locations in Connecticut and nationwide fundraised to support Special Olympics' state programs and athletes going to the Special Olympics USA Games. In an overwhelming show of support, people everywhere lined up to enjoy a sub - especially on Jersey Mike's Day of Giving, March 30th - when 100% of sales would go to Special Olympics. Athletes, coaches, and members of Team Connecticut for the USA Games and the Special Olympics CT staff visited their local Jersey Mike's to say thank you. We are beyond grateful to everyone who supported this campaign! (Stay tuned for the amazing amount of money raised.)
Honorees Celebrated at Annual Awards Dinner
Beau and Kevin Awards Dinner Awards Dinner
Our Annual Awards Dinner, presented by Tokio Marine America, took place at The Aqua Turf Club on March 29th. The event celebrated athletes who exemplify the spirit of Special Olympics and individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to our organization. 

Loretta Claiborne, Chief Inspiration Officer for Special Olympics, and Abby Snyder, a Special Olympics Connecticut Athlete and Global Messenger, were keynote speakers. Speakers also included iHeart Radio's Renee DiNino, Athlete Brian Drexler, NBC Connecticut's Ryan Hanrahan, and ESPN's Kevin Negandhi who was also honored with the Susan Saint James Award. In addition to Tokio Marine, sponsors of the event include Webster Bank and Chapel Haven Schleifer Center, Inc.

In addition to Negandhi, award recipients include:
  • Eunice Murtha Award - Eugene Singer
  • Community Award - Southern Connecticut State University
  • Bozzuto Family Award - The Baker Family
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver Award - Stephen Emblidge
  • Lew Perkins Award - John (Jay) Dubinsky
  • Outstanding Local Program Award - Special Olympics Trumbull
  • Spirit of Life Awards - Alicia Rostkowski, John Breda, Laura Ferraiolo, Macconall "Mackie" Gray
  • Unsung Hero Awards - Clem Kasinskas, Patricia McCormack, Sgt. Pete Howard, Damian Frassinelli
A Note from Loretta Claiborne
Oxford Students Advocate for Special Olympics (Virtually) on Capitol Hill
It was wonderful to see everyone at Special Olympics Connecticut's Annual Awards Dinner Tuesday evening; I enjoyed our time together. Congratulations to all the award winners and honorees and good luck to the athletes and coaches heading to the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando this June. I can’t wait to celebrate all you will accomplish!  
Beau, I wish you the very best the world has to offer in your retirement. May God bless you with good health and an abundance of joy! 
I look forward to spending time with my Special Olympics Family in Connecticut again soon!
Kindest regards, 
Loretta Claiborne
Chief Inspiration Officer, Special Olympics Inc.
Join Loretta in celebrating Beau and wishing him the best by donating to The Beau Fund here.
Law Enforcement Departments, Officers Honored
Branford PD Kelly Walsh
The Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Kick-off event, hosted by Foxwoods Resort Casino, was held on March 22nd with more than 200 guests representing law enforcement departments and agencies across the state in attendance. It was announced that more than $500,000 was raised by law enforcement to benefit Special Olympics CT in 2021 and the top ten fundraising departments were unveiled:
  1. Branford Police Department
  2. Bristol Police Department 
  3. Ridgefield Police Department
  4. Enfield Police Department 
  5. Waterbury Police Department
  6. Cheshire Police Department
  7. York Correctional Institution
  8. New Britain Police Department
  9. Avon Police Department
  10. UConn Police Department
Athletes Nick Sinacori and Raishaun Holloway and Raishaun's Unified Partner Katie Barber were introduced as new Torch Run Council Members and Director Kelly Walsh was inducted into the Connecticut Law Enforcement Torch Run Hall of Fame. Representatives of sponsoring organizations Bearingstar Insurance and The Hometown Foundation also were recognized.
Law Enforcement also hosted two Penguin Plunges in March. These included the Brookfield Plunge at  Candlewood Lake on March 19th and the Tolland Plunge at Crandall Park on March 26th, both bringing communities together and raising funds to support our athletes.
Tolland Penguin Plunge Brookfield Penguin Plunge
Over the Edge

Save the Date for Over the Edge - returning to Mohegan Sun, September 2nd!
To register for the event, click here.
April SOCT Zoom Room Events for Athletes
April 18th - Healthy Athletes Cooking Class with USJ Nutrition, 7 p.m. Register here.
April 27th - Maritime Aquarium Presents: Aquarium Stars - Sharks, 7 p.m. Register here.
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It's Easy to Plan for the Future with These Free Resources
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We welcome your feedback and contributions. Contact us at 203-230-1201 or specialolympicsct@soct.org.

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