Area26 news & updates

May 2022 | Issue 33
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 now operating in GREEN status, so masks are optional for the fully vaccinated. Screening protocols as previously arranged.

The June issue will be delayed till mid-month so we can include the results and summary of the Summer Games.
Nysmith Make The Point

The Nysmith School continued its many year tradition of hosting a basketball themed fundraiser for our Area 26 Sports. Students were allowed to shoot a series of free- throws each increasing the total donation to our Area. Athletes Jay Choi, Stephen James, Sean Minnick, Nick Ortega and Hoang Phan joined group - host (and Global Messenger) Kyler Reese on the Court. The crew also prepared a video about SO programs and athlete Kevin Bennett (who has previously participated...) joined the video ensemble. Thanks are due to their staff, parents and others for this very generous support effort.
Regional Track Meet (April 23rd)

Area 26 participated in the Potomac Region Track Championships at Episcopal HS in Alexandria. The sprinters, long-haulers and field crews had a great time on a very sunny day...
Swimming Regionals...(April 24th)

Area 26 Swimmers had their key season competition at the George Mason University Fitness and Aquatics Center. Seven teams from Area 26, two from Loudoun (Area 14) and the USA Team swam to qualify for the Summer Games in Richmond this June. Our talented field of swimmers will be well represented at the State level by the crew from this event.

From Coordinator Nancy Robbins..."A huge shout out goes to Veronica, Nicole, The Marlins, Brian Pawlowicz, and all the Officials and volunteers. Additional thanks to the Oakton Swim Club for stocking the Hospitality Room. Much gratitude to the Coaches for their time, talent and dedication to the swimmers."
Don't You Know We're Riding on the Marrakesh Express...

Mystery in Marrakesh (by Christine Fowler with commments by Leo Alonso)
The event was sponsored by Porto Charities which raises funds for inclusive education in schools within the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.   Inclusion in Action, a tag line of Porto Charities, Inc., was thematic and on display at the fund-raising event Mystery in Marrakesh. After two years of COVID 19 and six cancellations, on Thursday, April 7, thirty Area 26 Special Olympians and their friends had a ball! 

The event was a delightfully engaging night of dinner, followed by mini escape rooms and fun challenge games. The Market Stalls of Marrakesh were magically transported to the Springfield Country Club and made for a festive, and intriguing setting for all of the clue finding fun! Porto Charities, Inc hosted 80 players including 35 young adults with different abilities. All of the participants were divided into 10 inclusive teams. Eight volunteers served as “Marrakesh Tour Guides” to encourage and assist the stranded travelers to find the clues to their missing luggage and tickets back home!!!

Players enjoyed getting into the Marrakesh theme at the dress for Marrakesh success Selfie Station. The evening ended with the opening of a night club with belly dancing enjoyed by all. Our athletes were on the move getting their exercise with lots of shaking going on and big smiles all around.
The evening grossed over $14,000.00 in support of the mission of Porto Charities: To support children with special needs with the opportunity for an inclusive Catholic education, and adults with special needs, assistance with meaningful employment in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.

Athlete Caitlin Donovan said of the event:
“I had a great and wonderful time at the Mystery In Marrakesh with my friends and roommates and boyfriend (and) his family. My mom (Mary Donovan) and Maryjane (Gutkowski) and Kathy(Thompson) did a fabulous job with the event again this year. The volunteers also did an amazing job. I will definitely go again next year.”

Needless to say, a great time was had by all!!
GMU Basketball End Of Season Celebration

The entire arsenal of basketball teams from George Mason got together on April 30th to close out their season with a party at the Coyote Grill in Fairfax. Athletes and coaches enjoyed the warm sun and a chance to say goodbye for the Summer.
Golf Updates

Practice for Fall Golf is getting under way now. While golf is noted as a fall sport for VA State Games, avid golfers practice and play all year. More information is available on the website on the golf page.
The Annual Fall Golf Fundraiser will be taking place in October. While this is golf themed, the funding is used for all Area 26 programs, and makes up a good portion of our financial needs each year.

Start working on your backswing and short game... Also please consider donating an item or service for the very popular silent auction. Last year, we had a Jeff "Skunk" Baxter signed guitar, several bottles of SilverBack Distillery Top-Shelf whiskeys and a case of wine customized by the Area Council as prizes. If you have questions about the fundraiser, or if if you would like to put up an item, can contact the Coordinator
Open Water Swim Season Coming Soon...
The Potomac River Dolphins Open Water Swim Team is celebrating 10 years! If you love to swim and are curious about swimming in the open water, please join us for a pool open water training. 
Sunday May 8th @ Noon 
Pool Open Water Swimming Training 
Coach Anne McLindon 
Open to All - experienced OWS swimmers and swimmers who are just curious. 

Burke Racquet & Swim Club
6001 Burke Commons Road 
Burke VA 22015

Susan Pleskow 571.215.4022 


John Ferris 703.380.7491
Editor's Note... This month Max Hershberger (Area 26 Athlete Representative) and Billy Duquette (Area 26 Athlete Representative Mentor) will be embarking on a multi-month effort to get to know our Area 26 crew better. Max will be profiling athletes with a quick Q&A, and Billy will go in-depth with a Coach or key volunteer...Let's all be friends!!
Athletes Corner
  • by Max Hershberger
Hello Area 26!!!!!
I will be letting you all get to know some of our Area athletes during the spring and summer. Here are my first 5...Tony Linthicum, Tom Merz, Sean Cross, Karen Dickerson and Jeff Eskridge. Have fun getting to know them!!

Sports: Basketball, Football and Swimming.
Favorite sport: Football.
Time in Special Olympics: 20 years.
Goal: To be a great athlete.
Pastimes: Doing homework, planks and staying fit.
Best Advice: Listen to your coaches and be a great teammate and stay positive

Sports: Basketball, Football and Track.
Favorite sport: Basketball.
Time in Special Olympics: Since 2014.
Best Memory: Winning states in 2020.
Favorite way to workout : Pull-ups push-ups and core work 
Best Advice: Try to be ur best self in anything u put ur mind to.

Sports: Soccer basketball and track
Favorite sport: Soccer.
Time in Special Olympics: 5 years.
Goal: To be in good shape.
Pastimes: Hanging out with in the dorm doing pushups
Best Advice: Stay healthy and be strong 

Sports: Pool swimming,open water swimming,track, and triathlons.
Favorite sport: Track.
Time in Special Olympics: Since I was 12..
Best Memory: When I was in PE class in middle school my teacher saw that I could run during the whole 20 min run at a good pace and recommend me to do track and tried it out and really liked competition against other athletes with a disability like me.
Pastimes: Run or bike to the rec center for classes and swim.
Best Advice: Even if you are going through struggles during a race or competition don’t give up and do the best you can

Sports: Basketball and Soccer.
Favorite sport: Football.
Time in Special Olympics: Since i was in Elementary School.
Best Experience: my favorite moment in the program is spending time with my friends going to the George mason games
Best Workout: the best way to workout is outside or gym because it keeps you moving more
Best Advice: I would love to say to my fellow green machine team is to work hard and keep doing your best. Never give up but only that matters is when we win or lose we do it as a team like how other athletic team in different college teams never give up and keep playing
More athletes next month, keep working out!!

Max Hershberger

Special Olympics Coach/Volunteer of the Month
-by Billy Duquette
May : Andrea Moletto

Andrea Moletto is currently is the Area 26 bowling coordinator and the Alpine Ski coach. She as been coaching Alpine Skiing since 2009 when she moved to the Northern Virginia area.

Andrea was the head Ski coach up to 2016 when she was deployed to Afghanistan for work. When she came back to the US, she got back into coaching and started as our bowling coordinator in the fall of 2021.

Andrea first got involved with Special Olympics when she was a sports management major in college and the Special Olympics committee in Atlanta, GA came to one of her classes to do a presentation about SO. She decided to work with the organization after graduation as a volunteer for summer games. She knew then that she would always try and help out in some capacity, because she loves the mission of what Special Olympics and what it does with its athletes, their families, and their caregivers.

She is proud to be a part of the organization. Andrea's fondest memories of Special Olympics were when she coached at the 2013 World winter games in South Korea and experience the opening ceremonies with so many other countries. She said "It was a surreal moment being apart the US Delegation", and that representing her country on a global scale at an international event was an experience that she would not forget. She also said that it was a huge honor for her to be a part of the US team and to learn from other leaders, coaches and athletes at the world winter games.

The advice that Andrea would give to our athletes is to try new sports. By doing so, athletes get to meet new athletes and make new friends. She also said to stay in touch with your fellow athletes off season to help stay motivated for next season.

Andrea says that all athletes should learn the meaning of the SO motto. "We all have bad days where we don’t perform at our best, as long as we always remain “brave at the attempt” and continue to try hard, you will become a role model for your teammates."

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.
Spring Sports are Ongoing - 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
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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