Area26 news & updates
March 2022 | Issue 31
Let me win, but if I cannot win,
Let me be brave in the attempt.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Per current COVID spread rates and infection counts, all sports are currently allowed to resume with masking and screening protocols as previously arranged.

The CDC has released new masking guidelines. SOVA is reviewing the data and defining new protocols. We will forward those when they become available.

As we resume normal operations, the newsletter may be delayed each month to later in the first week if there are events going on that we wish to feature.
Special Olympics Capitol Hill Visits 2022

Each year, Special Olympics International gets together a team of US Athletes, Coaches and Staff to participate in an engagement with the US Congress. The purpose is to both make the sitting legislators aware of our programs and to seek some of the funding for programs such as Unified Sports and electronic medical records. This year Global and Health Messenger Kyler Reese was asked to join the Virginia delegation to speak about both athlete health concerns and programs designed to help. He spoke to seven different Congressional offices, including a session with his own Representative Jennifer Wexton (VA 10th District) where he shared the microphone with International CEO Tim Shriver!
Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver...
...and Kyler Reese and Barry Tilton talking to Congress
Loudoun HS Invitational Basketball Tournament

Region Senior Director Veronica Jennings (Pictured with athlete Jeff Cogswell, whose cousin Jordan Osman was a player on the Justice Wolves [#21]) joined the fun in Loudoun as Loudoun HS hosted one of the few tournaments of the basketball season.
Keeping Busy...
Our athletes have been engaging and practicing as often as safety allows. Here are some of the teams at work on the court...
GMU Teams...
The Legends...
Spring Sports are Starting - 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 indoor, 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 --
GMU Swimmers perfecting their strokes...

GMU Swimmers got underway with their regular practice as the indoor rules opened up. They are all getting ready for the time trials and regional meets coming soon!!
Track is about to begin...

Runners - get ready, the track and the streets await your return. Coordinator Jeff McGiboney is accepting registrations for this year's teams now...Information is on the website at the button...
Meeting with County Leadership
Several representatives of Area 26 Special Olympics were invited to support a meeting of the FCPS School Board where a motion was passed to Honor the Spread the Word: Inclusion Campaign

This campaign was initially started by the Special Olympics to end the use of the ‘r” word, which has been used as a slur and as a way to bully students. The campaign has expanded into one that promotes inclusion and acceptance. We support this campaign and its effort to engage schools to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The "Spread the Word Delegation": Global Messenger Kyler Reese, Area 26 Athlete Representative Max Hershberger and athletes Jeyoon Cho, Jeffery Eskridge, Emma Erhardt and Zach Fowler. Council Members Jeff Eskridge and Christine Fowler with other members of the community.
The following note from Rachna Sizemore Heizer, J.D., At-large Representative of the FCPS School Board was received after the event:

I am reaching out to thank ... all the athlete and council members from Special Olympics who came to support the School Board’s resolution on the “Spread the Word: Inclusion” campaign. It meant so much to us to have them there and I hope they found it worthwhile also. You have been a wonderful partner and Unified Special Olympics teams provides wonderful opportunities for inclusion in our schools.

Thank you again! 
Athletes Corner
  • by Max Hershberger
Hello Area 26!!

Last month, my friend, neighbor and fellow Fit5-er Kyler Reese (the Area Global and Health Messenger) and his Dad (the newsletter editor) joined a group from all over the Country for Special Olympics' Capitol Hill Day. I had a talk with him about his experience...

"Q. How many Congresspeople did you meet with? 
A: Seven Groups

Q: Who was with you on the Virginia Delegation (the Virginia group)?
A: My Dad, Veronica Jennings, David Thomason, Dave Pawlowski and Joy Cavagnaro

Q: What was your role in the Group?
A: I was the health speaker

Q. How many other athletes were with you? 
A: One or two each session - they were different.

Q: How many Mentors and Staff people?
A: My Dad was a mentor and there were about 4 staff for each session.

Q. What was the message you were there to give?
A: Special Olympic athletes need regular medical care. We need to make sure that we are taken care of, and we were asking for money to help with the program.

Q. Did you have fun? Would you want to do it again?
A: Yes! It was exciting and the message is important. I will go back again next year.

Wow, Kyler, That sounds like a lot of fun and a really good thing to do. Thank you for sharing!"
Talk to you next month

Max Hershberger
Virtual Activities...
Hi Athletes,

As always, details and schedule can be found on the online resources page on the Website.
Ongoing Reminder - Return to Activities Resources

  • The plan to restart our sports follows the SOVA guidelines for the return-to-play effort (button #1). [NOTE: COVID-19 Educational material are on pp 20-24]

  • We continue to encourage our community to get vaccinated as soon as they can. *Athletes and Volunteers must be vaccinated and provide proof in order to participate in Area 26 sports, staying overnight at away games, multi-day events and state games. Information about getting vaccinated can be found (button #2)

  • 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 #3).[3] 

  • SOVA and the CDC provide information about what it means to be a “high risk” participant, and we encourage you to follow the guidance of both SOVA and the CDC in this regard (button #4).

  • 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 #5).
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 #3 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
Abby Lacy
Katherine Martin
Jeff McGiboney
Tejas Patel
Nancy Robbins
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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