DeSales Hosts Special Olympics Pennsylvania Eastern Fall Sectional
Hundreds of athletes converged on DeSales University to compete in the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Eastern Fall Sectional—the largest service event in the University’s history.
More than 750 athletes put their skills to the test in five events: soccer, volleyball, powerlifting, bocce ball, and cross country running/walking.
Edward Altmose, who first joined Special Olympics when he was 13, competed with the Bethlehem powerlifting squad. He was hoping to add to his medal collection, which stands at an astounding 143.
“I just love to compete and I just love to try to break records and break my all-time best,” he says.
Students spent the past year organizing, planning, and putting the event together. An executive committee comprised of seven students has overseen six committees that are responsible for everything from fundraising and recruitment to logistics. Hundreds of DeSales students, including the entire freshman class, spent the day volunteering.
“The goal is that this should be an event for everyone on campus to take part in,” says Jaime Gerhart, director of the Center for Service and Social Justice. “It’s about celebrating sport; it’s about celebrating unity. It’s one of those events that makes complete sense to be at DeSales.”
Nearly 100 freshmen, including Laura Raccuglia and Kevin Lenahan, served as local program hosts, guiding the athletes around campus and cheering them on.
“Anything they need help with – finding the bathroom, getting something to eat, we’ll eat lunch with them, and help them find their bus at the end of the day,” says Lenahan.
Before becoming local program hosts, freshmen had to attend two training sessions to learn how the Special Olympics work and how to interact with the athletes. For Raccuglia and Lenahan, it was time well spent.
“Being able to make them happy in a world where they’re not seen that often is so amazing,” says Lenahan.
“It’s just really exciting and very rewarding,” adds Raccuglia.
To see more photos from the event, click here.