SCARC Athletes Prepare to Compete in New Jersey Special Olympics This Summer

May 10, 2019
SCARC Athletes Prepare to Compete in New Jersey Special Olympics This Summer

New Jersey Special Olympics

Under the guidance of their dedicated coaches, 24 of our amazing athletes will compete in the powerlifting, swimming, and track-and-field categories at Special Olympics New Jersey’s (SONJ) 2019 Summer Games! SCARC’s athletes have been training weekly since September in preparation for the Games, which will be held from June 7th to 9th at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing.

Setting Their Sights on Summer

“In order to be eligible to participate in the Summer Games, our athletes first had to take part in up to three levels of qualifying competition,” explained Ryan Lausch, a generous volunteer and local teacher who has directed our Special Olympics program for the last five years. “All of our athletes are exceptional—they worked and played so hard this past season—and the men and women who have qualified for the Special Olympics this year are proud to represent their SCARC teammates in June!”

SCARC staffers Taylor Ulikowski and Luanne Salvatoriello provide instruction for our track-and-field team, while Tom Brennan, another gracious volunteer, trains our powerlifters. With their coaches’ support, both teams train for free at Newton High School’s facilities. Our swimmers are trained by our SCARC CFO, Karen Newburgh, who has served as their volunteer coach for the last 30 years! Under Karen’s tutelage, our swim team practices its strokes at the Sussex County YMCA, which generously provides pool time at low cost. All our coaches take great joy in seeing our athletes overcome obstacles and improve over time, and, each week, they eagerly look forward to sharing their love of sports with the individuals we serve.

Creating Opportunities Together

Founded more than 50 years ago by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics is a worldwide movement that uses transformative power of sport to drive social change and break down barriers for individuals with intellectual disabilities. SCARC has been involved in the global organization since the early ‘70s, when our president and CEO, Dr. Richard Lecher, linked our organization with SONJ through Newton High School, ensuring the individuals we serve would have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of competition for decades to come.

All New Jersey Special Olympics programs are made possible thanks to the generous support of SONJ’s sponsors, contributors, and donors. SONJ charges no fees whatsoever to participating athletes—all equipment, uniforms, housing, and meals are completely free—ensuring that cost is never a barrier to competition. (Our athletes, coaches, SCARC staff, and volunteers will stay in the dorms at TCNJ for free.) Whatever costs we incur for transportation and staffing are generously covered the SCARC Foundation.

New Jersey Special Olympics By the Numbers

This June, 2,500 athletes, 3,000 volunteers, and more than 10,000 spectators will gather for one of the most exciting weekends in New Jersey sports! The three-day event will officially kick off with a special torch-lighting ceremony on Friday evening, followed by two days of nonstop competition. Categories will include a mix of traditional events as well as those that are tailored to the needs and abilities of individuals with physical challenges.

When our athletes aren’t competing, they can participate in a host of fun games and activities, enjoy plenty of entertainment, and access a range of free health screenings. The weekend always flies by, and everyone is both exhilarated and exhausted by the time Sunday’s closing ceremonies have ended.

SCARC Athletes Make an Impact at the Spring Games

We’re also proud to share that many of our athletes just wrapped up their spring competitions after several months of training. Our bowling program, which is coached by Ryan Lausch, is quite popular, with nearly 100 adults of all ages participating in the program. While everyone in the program enjoys bowling recreationally, many of our athletes also love to compete. This year, 60 of our bowlers competed in the first-round (area) competition, while seven of them advanced all the way to SONJ’s 2019 Spring Games!

We were thrilled to watch our athletes bowl their hearts out in March at Bowlero in North Brunswick, where more than 600 athletes enjoyed two days of exciting competition. Our athletes have always been top performers, and our participation in the Spring Games was no different: SCARC bowlers proudly took home a number of gold, silver, and bronze medals!

Your Chance to Make Special Olympics Dreams Come True

If you’re interested in supporting our athletes, please consider coming to the Games to cheer them on! Of course, we’d also love to have your support year-round. If you enjoy playing sports yourself, you might be interested in volunteering to coach our athletes in one of many Olympic-sports categories. We also encourage you to consider volunteering to support our athletes at the next New Jersey Special Olympics Games as well as donating to SCARC in order to help us continue providing this and other meaningful programs to the individuals we serve!

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” – Special Olympics Athlete Oath