Athlete Name: Jennifer Wong
Athlete Home Town: Irvington, NY – Westchester County, NY
Sports: Cycling, Basketball, Floor Hockey, Tennis, Track & Field,
Physical Fitness, Golf, and Bowling.
Years Participating: 1991
Athlete Quote: “I love to compete and go to competitions in other places. I like to meet new people.”
September 20, 2012 –
On June 16th Ella Jarvis participated in the 2012 Special Olympics State Summer Games at the University of Buffalo. Ella was the only female athlete from the Hudson Valley Region who competed in the relay race. Along with 3 of her Anderson teammates, the relay team placed 2nd out of 24 teams. Individually, Ella took first place in the 50m race. She not only won a second Gold medal in the 100m race, she also broke her own personal best time by finishing in 14.4 seconds.
When Ella returned to her residence in New Paltz after spending the weekend in Buffalo, she was glowing with pride. Special Olympics coach John DeLorenzo, who organized the trip to Buffalo, noted that “Ella was amazing all weekend. The boys listened to her; she was like the team leader. They didn’t even question her. If she said lets go, they jumped. I am very proud of her.”
Today Ella is an outgoing, sociable, and adventurous woman. She is always willing to try new things and loves to challenge herself, both physically and mentally. However, these personality traits were not always part of Ella’s nature.
When Ella first moved into the Anderson IRA, she was incredibly shy and soft-spoken. She had a tremendous amount of difficulty with expressing herself and her emotions. She also experienced great trepidation while interacting with new people in unfamiliar environments. Ella lacked a sense of true identity, and preferred not be noticed. The Special Olympics program has been one of the main components in Ella’s life that has helped her to transform into the unique individual that she is today.
Special Olympics focuses on abilities, rather than on disabilities. It is a program that strives to highlight individuals’ strengths. With the support of her coaches, staff, and friends, Ella has been able to overcome some personal struggles in order to perform her best and reach her goals. When asked what she finds challenging about the Special Olympic events, Ella responded that “sometimes it’s hard to hear them call my name and sometimes, I’d say, I get very overwhelmed.” Ella was quick to note that, “staff are there to help me” deal with difficult situations. Behavior Specialist and Special Olympic coach, Amanda Coons, has been dedicated to training and supporting Anderson’s athletes. “Amanda helps me to stay calm, and to focus, and tells me when to listen for my name,” recalls Ella.
Ella also has the support of her residential staff. Whether it’s playing catch in the backyard, going for a jog around the neighborhood, or swimming at the local pool, Ella loves being active. She uses these activities as a way to connect with staff and her peers. Although Ella thrives on competition, she feels that the most rewarding part of the Special Olympics is that she is “part of a team.” Ella says that it makes a huge difference to “have people together so that we can support each other.”
Being involved in sports has given Ella the much needed opportunity to explore a world that she enjoys. The Special Olympics offers her the opportunity to excel, feel competent, showcase her abilities, and feel a genuine sense of pride. Playing sports, working with teammates, challenging her mind and body, have all given Ella a foundation of confidence that she is able to carry with her throughout her daily life.
Jermaine Edie, Middletown, NY
Jermaine is a 27 year old athlete who will compete in Powerlifiting at World Games and considers this a great honor. He has competed in the Special Olympics since 1999 and holds the Special Olympics NY records in both Bench Press (265 lbs) and Dead lift (550 lbs). Jermaine is proud of the Special Olympics NY Powerlifting records he holds, but he most treasures the many friends he has made and people he has met.
The World Summer Games will host some 7,500 athletes from 185 countries supported by 40,000 volunteers and 3,500 officials. Team USA consists of 314 athletes and 126 coaches. In addition to Jermaine, there are 10 athletes representing New York State on Team USA. Participation in a Special Olympics World Games competition is the ultimate achievement for our athletes. However, the Special Olympics movement makes an impact 365 days a year. Jermaine is one of 3,000+ athletes from the Hudson Valley that are served by Special Olympics New York.
March 12, 2008
On Wednesday, March 12, Special Olympics New York athlete Frank Ragusa from the Hudson Valley traveled to Washington, DC, to meet with NY Representatives on Capital Hill. Frank was among more than 40 Special Olympics athletes who traveled to the Capital to meet with their state representatives. He shared sentiments on the importance of Special Olympics in his life, and advocated for continued and additional support for programming for more than 2.5 million people with intellectual disabilities throughout the world.
“For many years people with intellectual disabilities have been kept in the shadows, but Special Olympics is helping to open the doors of opportunity for our athletes to be true leaders, not only in their communities, but throughout the world,” said Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. “With federal support for education, health and worldwide expansion through Special Olympics, we will be able to empower more athletes around the world to become leaders in our efforts to change attitudes from ignorance to acceptance.”
In November 2004, President George Bush signed into law the Sport & Empowerment Act, which authorizes $15 million a year in federal funding for Special Olympics in the areas of education, health and worldwide expansion.
Special Olympics New York provides year round sports training and athletic competitions in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Each participating athlete is provided with opportunities to develop physical fitness while demonstrating extraordinary courage, skills and talent. Special Olympics New York proudly serves 46,106 people with intellectual disabilities, the largest program in the United States and eighth largest program in the world.