Area26 news & updates

June 2022 | Issue 34
Let me win, but if I cannot win,
Let me be brave in the attempt.
Editor's note: We will be taking a publishing hiatus for July and August since we are between seasons. We will begin publishing again in September. If there is anything critical that NEEDS to go out, please forward the information and we will issue a blast.
Let the games begin!!



Road to Richmond

Athletes from Area 26 made the journey to the University of Richmond for the return of Virginia Special Olympics Summer Games. Athletes and teams supported programs in track/field, swimming, tennis and softball.
Area 26 was the most represented and best finishing group at the games this year. Amongst those achieving glory at the pool were swimmers from George Mason, the Oakton Swim Club and the Burke Barracudas. Highlights from the competition follow...

Several Northern Virginia Squads also hit the track (and field) in the heat for the big meet...
David Kellet-Forsythe, Caitlyn Donovan and Max Hershberger celebrate their medaling...

Athlete Jay Choi Picked up Double Gold in Tennis (Single AND Doubles...)
Unified Softball

Lions Pride, with the help of Bears Coach Linda, won the gold medal for Unified Softball at State Games. What a great weekend. The weather was perfect for softball.

Front row: Linda Armistead, Jeremy Duston, Coach Sandy Schwartz, Jason Duston, Micki Kuzmuk, Coach Gail Whalen

Second row: Jaxson Zimmerman, Rick Schneider, David Krever, Michelle Otterness, Coach Dick Schneider. 
Social Time...
Opening and Closing Ceremony Parties were back to normal with a performance by Shayy (from American Idol) in the Opener and a BIG Dance Party at the Close...
Swim athlete Kevin Bennett performed the National Anthem at the Opening Ceremony!
Last Month we featured the Area 26 Athletes and Coaches who participated in the USA Games in Florida. Here are a couple of shots from the event, and a link to a video on the VA Team...
Nysmith Fundraiser Follow Up

In mid May, Area Chair Elaine Tilton received the check from Katherine Michetti for the Make The Point challenge held in April at Nysmith School. Their extraordinary efforts resulted in a total donation of $7,682.75! During the campaign Area Global Messenger Kyler Reese and several of his fellow athletes delivered a video message about the programs supported. You can watch the video at the button below.

Top Row: Stephen James,
Sean Minnick, Nick Ortega

Bottom Row: Jay Choi,
Kyler Reese, Hoang Phan
Young Professionals Board...
Young Professionals Board...
Learn about how Medicaid Works...
SOVA is proud to partner with Moms in Motion, a Virginia-based nonprofit whose mission is to help families navigate Medicaid waivers. They are subject matter experts with detailed knowledge of the requirements and processes of the waiver system, which can be daunting and challenging for many.

We invite you to learn more during a live conversation Wednesday, June 22 at 6 pm OR Tuesday, June 28 at 2 pm. 

The session will be led by Anna Thomas, Moms in Motion's Community Outreach & Client Engagement Rep. Join her at your chosen time via the appropriate link below, and get all of your questions answered about how to navigate the various waivers available to Virginia residents and how Moms in Motion can help you along the way. 
ARC Fundraiser by Jeff McGiboney
The Special Olympics of Northern Virginia participated in the ARC of Northern Virginia annual 5K race and 2K walk on May 1, 2022 at Burke Lake Park. The Special Olympics team successfully demonstrated their skills by placing 2nd in the Non Cooperate Division for the race. The 5K race team was composed of athletes and unified partners. The team consisted of Bruce McGiboney, Max Hershberger, Jacob Sable, Mary Beth Parks, Garrick O'Bryan, and Mike O'Bryan. Max Hershberger finished 2nd in the overall individual race. He was shortly followed by his teammates to a triumphant finish.

In addition to the 5K race, the Special Olympics had 7 athletes and unified partners to complete the 2K walk. The 2 K walk team consisted of David Vonick, Bryan Vonick, Rudoph Vonick, Keiko Vonick, Sioban Murphy and Kevin Murphy. Team spirits were high especially after learning about the 5 K race team finish.

In addition to the 5K race, the Special Olympics had 7 athletes and unified partners to complete the 2K walk. The 2 K walk team consisted of David Vonick, Bryan Vonick, Rudoph Vonick, Keiko Vonick, Sioban Murphy and Kevin Murphy. Team spirits were high especially after learning about the 5 K race team finish.

The ARC received money from donations made in honor of our Special Olympics athletes. Congratulations to our Special Olympics atheltes and their unified partners for their win and contribution to the ARC of Northern Virginia.
Editor's Note... This month Max Hershberger was running, and running, and running (you will see him in several pictures...) He will continue with athlete profiles when we return after Summer Break...

Special Olympics Coach/Volunteer of the Month
-by Billy Duquette
June : Abby Lacy Whidden

Editor's Note: Abby was married this past month (thus the name change...)! The newsletter staff offers our sincere congratulations and wish the new couple all the best...) Now, onto the profile...

Abby is currently is the secretary of the Area 26 Council and also serves as the Virtual Activities’ Coordinator and the Area 26 Soccer Coordinator.

She has been involved with soccer since it was organized, but also volunteers with both basketball and tennis. Abby got interested in Special Olympics when she moved up to the Northern Virginia in 2013. She got involved because she felt she wanted to give back to the community - that her life would be more fulfilling with volunteer engagement. Her coworker at the time (Matt Fisher) coached a soccer team at a PVI tournament and she talked with him to find out how to get more involved with Special Olympics. She then ot in touch with Veronica and the rest is history.

Her favorite thing about SO is that she loves to watch the athletes hit the field or the court and to give it their all. She loves their excitement when they score of a point or a victory. Abby is amazed and proud when she sees the outpouring of support and encouragement when things don’t go to plan for their team.

The advice that she would give to our athletes is to make sure to show up even with Covid still being around (Not when they HAVE it, of course...). Most teams will get into funks and she has done that as well. Most people have tended to get in a rut routine of not venturing out and just staying home. She says you need to get accustomed to staying occupied with friends and new activities. It is good for your mood, your mental health, and overall happiness.

Talk to you next month,
Virtual Activities...
Hi Athletes,

As always, details and schedule can be found on the online resources page on the Website.
Area 26 Participation Policy...
Face Mask 1
All athletes, volunteers and coaches must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Additionally, SOVA Policy requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all athletes, volunteers and coaches participating in overnight or away events. This includes any local, regional, state or national invitational events. Proof of vaccination must be sent to SOVA and Area 26.

Athlete families, please verify with your coaches that your paperwork has been approved before arriving for practice or events. The coaching and volunteer staff cannot accept the forms in person and grant immediate access, as SOVA has the approval authorization.

NOTE: When you submit the athlete paperwork via the email address (and volunteer packages to the address) they go both to the Area AND to SOVA for processing.

-- See the article below for links to all forms --
Ongoing Reminder - Return to Activities Resources

  • Each athlete and Volunteer will have to complete a COVID Waiver Form. The link is now to an updated copy which adds vaccination status - (button #1). 

  • Athletes with an expired Medical Form will have to submit updates to all forms. The package now contains 8 pages - please complete and submit the full package (button #2).
Athletes, please email completed athlete forms AND front/back images of Vaccination Cards to: (this will deliver them to both the Area AND to SOVA - only the one email address is required)

See the button below for Volunteer Class A Certification Process on the Area 26 website. 

Volunteer Class A, and coach certifications must be updated every 3 years. Many certifications have expired, and many are due to expire. All volunteers are also required to have a COVID19 Waiver on file (button #1 above... ).
Volunteers, please email completed volunteer forms, certifications AND front/back images of Vaccination Cards to: (as with the athleteform email, this will deliver them to both the Area AND to SOVA - only the one email submission address is required)
Stay Healthy, Stay Active!!

We love to have your pictures - so keep busy and...
Revealing the Champion in all of us...
Please continue to share information about this newsletter and website with those you know in the community so that we can better share the wonder of our special athletes and volunteers. To sign up to receive the newsletter, go to our webform Newsletter Subscription
Area 26 Points of Contact
Area 26 Council

Elaine Tilton

Chuck Adkins-Blanch
Patrick DeLapp
Billy Duquette
Jeff Eskridge
Christine Fowler
Max Hershberger
Jay Hoffmeier
Veronica Jennings
Nancy Julia
Katherine Martin
Jeff McGiboney
Tejas Patel
Nancy Robbins
Abby Whidden
Bernie Woolfley
Area 26 Special Olympics |
Season Directors
Elaine Tilton, Fall/Winter

Nancy Julia, Spring/Summer

Barry Tilton

Volunteer Coordinator
Tejas Patel

Athlete Representative
Max Hershberger

Medical Coordinator
Christine Fowler

Senior Director, Potomac Region
Veronica Jennings
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