See what's happening at SOCT this December!
See what's happening at SOCT this December!
Unified Sports® Holiday Classic Provides Inclusive Sports Experience for Over 1,500 Participants
Group of people running across a basketball court. Boy lifting a barbell.
Boy hitting a volleyball. Girl posing for a photo with a bowling ball.
Our annual Unified Sports® Holiday Classic Presented by the Connecticut Elks Association featured competition in powerlifting, bowling, basketball and volleyball and was held at AMF Circle Lanes in East Haven, Bowlero in Milford, Gleason Performance Training in Derby, Hamden Hall's Beckerman Athletic Center in Hamden and Quinnipiac University in Hamden. With 1,573 athletes and Unified partners participating, it was our highest-attended state sports event since 2019.

During the weekend, 39 athletes participated in our Healthy Athletes® Strong Minds program. Through Strong Minds, athletes learn about and apply different strategies to cope with stress, including thinking positive thoughts, releasing stress and connecting with others. Additionally, 46 athletes received Special Smiles screenings and oral health education provided by volunteers from UConn Dental School and Tunxis Community College. 
Thank you to our Unified Sports® Holiday Classic coaches, volunteers and sponsors:
List of Unified Sports® Holiday Classic coaches, volunteer, and sponsor logos.
Next up - our 2023 Winter Games, which will take place March 4th and 5th. 
Get To Know Our New CFO - Amber Tencic
Amber Tencic posing for a photo with an athlete.
We're delighted to announce that Amber Tencic has joined our Special Olympics Connecticut staff as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).

SOCT: Why did you want to work for Special Olympics?
Amber: I have always wanted to work for an organization with a mission that I could strongly support and SOCT fits that perfectly.

SOCT: What is your role with Special Olympics Connecticut and what do you hope to accomplish?
Amber: I will be stepping in as the CFO and CDO. I have big shoes to fill as I am taking over for Michael Mason, our new CEO, who has been involved with SOCT for over 20 years. As CFO, I want to focus on efficiencies from a financial perspective and be involved in events to learn more about what SOCT provides to its athletes.

SOCT: What did you think of your experience at our Unified Sports® Holiday Classic? 
Amber: I loved it! The athletes were very welcoming. I loved hearing about their lives and experiences with SOCT.

SOCT: Please share some background about your professional experience.
Amber: I started my career as an auditor for non-profits, specifically ARCs and group homes. I shifted to financial services and worked in that industry (hedge funds, private equity and fund of funds) for more than 20 years. After taking a break to spend more time with my family, I am pleased to re-enter the non-profit sector.
SOCT: What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
Amber: Now that my children are finishing high school and are in college, I find myself with more free time. I hope to continue my passions for gardening and cooking.

SOCT: What is your favorite sport? 
Amber: Anyone who knows my family, knows that we are obsessed with soccer. All three of my children play, and the world cup this year has provided some great and unexpected moments. We are all rooting for Croatia to go all the way!
Meet Our New Athlete Leaders
Special Olympics Connecticut is proud to announce that Remi Pagan, Alexandra Frumin, John Frazier, Hector Sanchez and Anthony Thibeault have joined the Special Olympics Connecticut Athlete Leadership Team sponsored by Synchrony. They will serve as Global Messengers, spokespersons and ambassadors for our organization. With the addition of these new members, our Athlete Leadership team is over 60 members strong! Here's more about these outstanding athletes:
Remi Pagan smiling at the camera for a photo.
Remi Pagan
Physicians told Remi's parents that her heart defects and lack of oxygen combined with the genetic condition of Down Syndrome would result in her being unable to ever walk, talk or feed herself. Did Remi ever surprise them! She survived open-heart surgery at eight months of age, was weaned off oxygen at five years old, and since, has never let anything stop her! Remi competes in track & field, bowling and golf as a member of our Special Olympics Trumbull team.

Remi was the first person with intellectual disabilities to mainstream in three different school districts in two different states before the laws in those states allowed it, earned an academic excellence scholarship upon graduation from high school, and currently works at the Palm & Able Thrift Store in Shelton. 
Alexandra Frumin smiling at the camera for a photo.
Alexandra Frumin
Alexandra Frumin joined our Special Olympics Greenwich program in 2010 and participates in swimming, golf and figure skating. 

She works at the Darien YMCA at Holly Pond Preschool, and has also worked at Greenwich Dental and Coffee for Good. She loves to sing, dance, perform, walk her dog - Scout - and be busy and independent! She says, "Special Olympics keeps me active and energetic and makes me an amazing, strong athlete!"
John Frazier smiling at the camera for a photo.
John Frazier
John Frazier trains and competes with Special Olympics Hartford and has participated in Special Olympics since 1968! John enjoys participating in basketball, soccer, floor hockey and softball. 

John works at Harc, Inc. His hobbies include gaming, spending time on his computer and walking. He also enjoys fundraising for causes he believes in - including Special Olympics! He travels to Texas every fall to visit his brother and raises funds while he's there. He's cumulatively raised over $15,000 to support his Hartford team! Additional accomplishments that John is proud of include losing weight and serving as an assistant for the Special Olympics Hartford team!
Hector Sanchez looking at the camera for a photo.
Hector Sanchez
Hector Sanchez is also a member of our Special Olympics Hartford team. The sports Hector plays include basketball, soccer, floor hockey, softball and track & field. He began participating with Special Olympics in 2008. 

Hector's pastimes include going to the casino, swimming and going to the beach. He also likes to fundraise for important causes. Hector received a degree in cooking from Manchester Community College in 1993 and has worked in the bakery departments at Stop-n-Shop and Edwards grocery stores. He currently works at Harc, Inc.
Anthony Thibeault looking at the camera for a photo.
Anthony Thibeault
Anthony Thibeault, who always loved watching sports with his family and wanted to play organized and school sports, is now an athlete with our Special Olympics Cheshire team. Having persevered and overcome some health challenges present at birth, he has participated in Special Olympics for nearly 30 years, beginning with Unified basketball in high school. Anthony's trained and competed in track & field, bowling and basketball and currently plays volleyball, soccer and golf. In 2018, he competed in golf at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle with his Unified partner Dale Akerley.

As a senior in high school, he was asked to be the ‘water boy’ for the Southington High School boys’ basketball team. Anthony says he's "proud and honored" to continue in this role - over 25 years later.

Anthony says, "Special Olympics means a lot to me—sharing the same interests with people with disabilities. I have made many friends and it gives me the opportunity to be able to socialize, be with people and out in the community."
Pelazza Receives International LETR Award
Todd Pelazza in a police uniform posing for a photo with an athlete at the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Todd Pelazza was honored with the John Carion Unsung Hero Award at this year's Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) International Conference which took place in Texas last month.

Todd has been involved in the Connecticut Law Enforcement Torch Run (CTLETR) program for over 25 years and has become one of the leaders of the movement, not only in Connecticut but across the region.

Todd has served on the CTLETR Executive Council since 2007 and as Co-Director from 2010 – 2018. Under Todd’s leadership, the CTLETR program has significantly grown its participation and revenue and Fairfield University's Department of Public Safety became a top fundraising LETR department. 

Todd has supported our state competitions as well as fundraisers throughout Connecticut and fundraisers in other New England states. He supported the Region 1 Super Plunge and brought the event to Connecticut in 2019. He also volunteered at the Rhode Island and Connecticut Super Plunges in 2021. 

Todd was instrumental in coordinating Fairfield University's involvement in the 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games – as a host site for athletes. He also helped make it possible for SOCT to hold its Summer Games at the University in 2021 and 2022 as well as assisted with helping Special Olympics St. Kitts Nevis hold their first-ever Torch Run. Todd is also a member of the committee responsible for organizing the International LETR Conference this year and in 2023. 
Super Plungers Raise Over $30,000
Group of people holding up their fingers for a photo next to the ocean.
Nine dedicated participants braved the cold and took part in our annual Super Plunge by dashing into the cool waters of the ocean every hour for 24 consecutive hours. They include Erin Connole of the Avon Police Department; Sgt. Nikki Mordasiewicz of the Hartford Police Department; Lt. Eric Gutsfeld, Sgt. Steve Morgan, Det. Anthony Bongiovanni and Ofc. Brandon Caires of the Rocky Hill Police Department; John Chandler, Deborah Chandler and Joe Carlone, Retired, Connecticut Department of Correction. Together, they met the challenge and raised over $30,000 for SOCT! Volunteers Todd Pelazza and Kelly Walsh supported the event and the Westbrook Elks hosted. 
Registration is Now Open For All 2023 Penguin Plunge Events!
Penguin Plunge logo.
We're chilled, we mean thrilled, to announce our Penguin Plunge event dates for 2023. Click on the event to find out more and register for a Plunge:

Middletown Penguin Plunge - Saturday, February 25th
Shoreline Penguin Plunge - Sunday, March 5th
Brookfield Penguin Plunge - Saturday, March 18th
Tolland Penguin Plunge - Saturday, March 25th
Fairfield Penguin Plunge - Saturday, April 8th  

Stock up on Coca-Cola for the Holidays!

All through December, when you purchase three 20 oz. bottles of Coke for $5 at participating Cumberland Farms in Connecticut, 15 cents will go to Special Olympics Connecticut.

We thank Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast and Cumberland Farms for making this promotion possible for a third consecutive year. Enjoy Coca-Cola and support our athletes!
Save the Date for Our Annual Awards Dinner
View the Save the Date announcement about our 2023 Awards Dinner scheduled for Monday, March 13th
🎁 To make your end-of-year gift to support Special Olympics athletes, please click here.
List of Unified Sports sponsor logos.
Free Resources to Care For Loved Ones
To show our appreciation for all you’ve done for Special Olympics Connecticut, we would like to offer you something in return. Something we hope will have a positive impact on you and your family. If you’re like many people, creating or updating your will, trust and other important documents is something that often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. But planning can help you care for your loved ones and offer significant peace of mind. And it doesn’t have to be complicated.
We hope our free publications will help you get started. Some of the information available includes:
  • Considerations for taking care of a loved one with special needs, parents or elder family member
  • Tips for choosing an executor
  • Creating an Advance Care Directive
  • Why you need a digital estate plan
 You’ll find a complete list of free publications here.

We welcome your feedback and contributions. Contact us at 203-230-1201 or

Partner Sponsors

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