#2  |  Winter 2016-2017
Team VERGE Newsletter
Happy New Year!
Updates, member spotlights, thank you's and more as we head into our 2nd year...

written by AJ, Pres. & Head Coach
*This is our first newsletter in this format and the first since December 2015. It is being sent out to all current and past members, plus anyone who has inquired or communicated with us in any aspect.
Y ou may UNSUBSCRIBE at the bottom if you don't wish to receive future newsletters.
First things first...THANK YOU !!
Annual Donation Drive 2016
We held our first annual donation drive in the fall through Thanksgiving and met our goal of $2500! We also received an equipment donation of medicine balls and resistance bands!!

THANK YOU to all who gave in support of VERGE and the athletes and families! 

Janet Amorello
James Berets
Arnold & Harriet Barnett
Denise Burroughs
Bernie Chirokas
Matthew Curran
Paul & Mary DelPizzo
Bobby Dickey
Kathleen Doherty
Tommy Foxon
Rachel Kaprielian & John Gannon
Robin Doughty & Shona Gibson
Dr. James Griffith
Heritage Wholesalers, Jon Marron
Daniel Hurley
Barbara Jackins
Linda & David Judd
Wen Li
Fang Liu
Zach Lynch
Stephen Peterson
Puglisi Family
Carolyn Stoller
Mika & Michelle Tapanainen
Dr. Robert Tuttle
William & Chris White
Mark Yerkes  
Special Friends and Giant Foam Core Checks!
On November 13, Matt and I (escorted by Tim Chirokas and his punky blue hair) were presented a $500 donation from the John Thomas & Special Friends Fund at their 80's themed fundraiser event.

THANK YOU so much for including VERGE in your family (and for the awesome 80's flashbacks)! 

What a fantastic event ("totally rad" as promised) and wonderful people.

CLICK HERE to learn more about The John Thomas & Special Friends Fund and their upcoming events. 
"Benefiting our special children and those who care for them."
Sweet Spirit
Volunteers Gretchen, Morgan, Sarah, and their Concord-Carlisle HS classmates baked up a bunch of goodies and held a bake sale at the Halloween race in Concord, bringing in $99 for VERGE! They were also on hand to run with anyone who wanted a buddy. THANKS GUYS for the sweet, simple, fun spirit you brought!!    

A little bit of that raised brought many smiles and much excitement, motivation, and warmth to 3 practices one super chilly November Saturday!! Hot chocolate and cookies for all!
Have fun while supporting us!
Bring your friends!!

6:00 - 10:00 pm (Jump anytime)

VERGE receives 25% of proceeds. 

LAUNCH Trampoline Park
625 Pleasant St
Watertown, Ma 02472

*Don't forget to mention Verge*

Located behind the Ford Dealership. Plenty of parking.

Indoor Track Starts January 15
WHERE: Lexington High School Field House (146m track)

WHEN: Sundays, Jan 15 - March 26

  • Session 1 @ 9:00am (a few spots left)
  • Session 2 @ 10:00am (FULL)

Season ends with a Team Meet Sunday, March 26 @ 9:00am.

Indoor season focus is on sprint and short distance running; strength, motor skills, balance and coordination; and field events (for those interested): turbo jav, softball throw, shot put, standing broad jump (no pit for long jump).

SIGN UP at  www.teamverge.org/registration.

Growth Spurt
(more Coaches needed!)
70 participants came out this fall across 5 locations, including 2 new locations this fall (Concord & Boylston).  

In 2017 we aim to return to 3x/week in the greater Boston area, and 2-3x/week in the greater Worcester area.  This frequency was the original intent, and the athletes who attend 2-3 times a week not only have a lot more personal gain, but great bonds and a camaraderie form between them as well! 

Addresses and parking/restroom info are listed on the website at https://www.teamverge.org/practice-locations.

CONCORD - In collaboration with the Concord Rec. department, we started practices at Emerson Fields track this fall.

BOYLSTON  - After a few attempts, we finally got a greater Worcester group started. Thanks to Tahanto Regional HS for allowing us to use their track! We hope for some good XC running this year too. 

 started in June at the request of families in the area. Thanks to Nicole Ogin for coaching this group!  They had a blast and can't wait for next spring.

LEXINGTON  had many new participants this fall for those early mornings on the blue track. 

N. CAMBRIDGE  also saw an increase in participation.  We hope to return to 2x a week. This is an incredible place to hold practices because we have so many options. We can run hills and XC courses in addition to track, and the athletes love the variety.  I encourage greater Boston area folks to join us here in addition to the weekend practices. It's at the end of Rte 2. The sunsets are gorgeous too!
Advisory & Outreach Team
We Need Your Help!
VERGE is an ALL VOLUNTEER organization. What does this mean? It means we have lots of ways you can help!  And we need more help.

Be a part of the Advisory & Outreach Team . This is a group of people who agree to help out with specific aspects as needed and as they can. It is not a Board or a Committee and there are no required regular meetings. 

Want to help?  Tell AJ, or email her at arussell@teamverge.org.


Legal - John Gannon will continue to offer his support. Thanks John!

Financial -  We need an accountant with non-profit knowledge who can advise and answer questions as needed. We are 501(c)3 with income (donations, grants, sponsors, fundraising events, raffles) of less than $50,000, no employees. Pretty simple.

Physical Therapists & Disability Specialists - To collaborate and advise as needed for general programming and individual cases. Our program will be stronger with your help!

Parent/Athlete - A few people (no limit) from each location to represent their team. You are the voices that will help guide me in decision making. I hope this will help keep members engaged in our process.  At a minimum, you will offer feedback and input at each seasonal check in (4x a year), and also help weigh in on bigger decisions about spending. You don't need to take time to meet as a group. We can do everything via email and at practices (or phone if necessary).

Community Outreach:

We need people to help us connect with and stay connected to various communities so those folks are aware of the opportunity to participate. There are a bazillion organizations, agencies, programs, schools, etc.  Many I don't know about, and the ones I do, it's hard to keep up with. These are what I have in mind. 

Young Adult special needs community - Athletes, parents, or others with ties to the community who can keep me updated on opportunities and let me know about programs out there we may want to reach out to. You can be responsible for communication to these groups if you want.

SEPAC groups - Parents to keep me updated on opportunities or listings with their local groups that we may want to be part of.  I also need parents who could attend their local resource fairs to represent VERGE. I was unable to attend them this year because they were all during practice times.

Volunteers -

  • Teen members (athletes, volunteers, siblings) who would like to be instrumental in helping to recruit volunteers from their schools.  
  • Anyone who may have connections to colleges, or other places that may like to send volunteers our way.
  • Anyone who may like to organize a volunteer recruiting campaign.
  • Anyone involved in the running community who can advocate and promote to help recruit more coaches.
Special needs schools, programs, organizations - People to inform me of or make connections with places and contacts that would be interested in connecting with us, or receiving updates and seasonal info. 

Team Social Events:

Party People! - We need you to get the team together for some fun once or twice a year. (Last year we held a team BBQ at Lincoln Park in Lexington.)

Social planning and gathering for the sake of simply being social is very distressing and confusing to me so I completely defer to you! 

Other Opportunities:

Road Race - We need people to help with our road race this spring! Paul Buckley and I are leading this. We need your help!  
  • Help organize the race.
  • Help recruit volunteers for race day.
  • Volunteer on race day.
  • Help find Sponsors - Financial, food, T-shirts, items for raffles.
  • Help promote the event.
Member Spotlights
When you start something that you believe in wholeheartedly, with a specific purpose and goal in mind rooted deep from a personal place, but you're not sure how it will be received or the effect it will have, if any, to hear stories like these after 1.5 years is wonderful. It attests to the value of both running itself, and of the critical importance of providing opportunity and appropriate support, challenge, and an environment where individuals can grow.
And that is VERGE's mission.
VERGE has been running together for 1.5 years now!
Hear what it's meant to these guys who have been with us for most or all of it...
(as told by Zach and Mom)
Zach started running cross country in 7th grade at his middle school with the assistance of an aide. He was good but it was always a chore and he never really enjoyed it.

In 9th grade, Zach joined the Verge running program. He excelled and for the first time realized that he was a really good runner.  He found a joy in running.  He also felt comfortable with the Verge peer group where he was both a leader and a competitor.  When he returned running with the HS team, he worked harder, pushed for better times in meets and actually smiled throughout the season. Verge gave him confidence to push forward, work harder, and show he was just as good as the next runner.

Zach felt that Verge helped him meet new people, he had fun racing, he loved the Cambridge outdoor runs, and he got more support.

Zach attended the LHS cross country banquet this fall and was given the Captains Award.  The four senior captains got up and talked about a teammate that never gave up, pushed them to work harder, never complained and smiled throughout.  As a Sophomore, this is a huge achievement and showed how much the captains valued Zach as a part of the team.  

As a family with a child who has a disability, you are always looking for other families to share information, discuss your challenges and successes and share information.  Verge has given us the opportunity to make new friends as well as meet  AJ and Matt who have given everything to this program.

Overall, Verge has given us the opportunity to give Zach what he was missing before; that running is fun, he is good at it, and he is finally enjoying it.
(as told by Makai and Mom)
Makai now runs with Lexington HS and comes back to help us out when he can!

1) What do you enjoy about running with Verge? 

I enjoyed running with Verge because I could be myself and have the fun of running without the 6 days a week commitment. Also, Verge was really good about working with my ability and others.

2) In what ways has participating with Verge impacted you? How does running/physical activity benefit you?

Running with Verge has impacted me in a very positive way. I was able to work on my running as well as have a great time in he process. Personally, running helps me release stress and improve my mood.

3) Is there a personal achievement you are proud of?

There are a few things that I'm proud of; the first would be that I'm now on the Lexington high school track team and XC team. Also, I ran a 5K PR on Thanksgiving with a time of  19:47 . I would not have been able to have the courage to run with Lexington high school if I did not run with Verge.

4) Do you have a favorite something to share?

My favorite sports team is the New England Patriots and my favorite food is Chinese. Also I LOVE RUNNING!!

5) Anything else?

All and all running with Verge has helped me in so many ways and I love how everyone is so close, it's like a family.

From Makai's mom...

I think participating in Verge reignited Makai’s love of running.  He ran on a town track team when he was very young, but that faded as he got older and life/social dynamics seemed more complicated for him.  Once Verge came along it opened up a new opportunity for him to participate.  He was able to join a running club where he knew he’d be accepted regardless of the challenges he faced.  He was able to improve his own running  abilities and help others do the same.  He felt a sense of pride in his own personal running accomplishments and the chance to help others achieve their own personal running and social engagement goals.  I don’t think Makai would be a member of the Lexington High School track team today if Verge didn’t come along when it did.   Verge, and his friendship with the two of you, have enriched and strengthened his soul.  Thank you so much for such a gift.

Neil & Tyler
(as told by Dad)
1) What does each boy enjoy about running with Verge? 

Both of my boys enjoy being part of a group. They like seeing the others. Tyler likes to be interactive and play tag or other games with the other kids as well as hanging on to Coach AJ! 

Neil enjoys watching the others and flirting with the teen volunteers. 

2) In what ways has participating with Verge impacted them? How does physical activity benefit them?

Neil has benefited by finding a routine and a place where he can participate and compete. Verge has given Neil a place to be an individual while also part of a group. Knowing the stretching routine as well as knowing he can push himself and get a rest has been big for Neil.

Tyler has developed his competitiveness and built on his desire to please. He wants to be the 1st to complete a task as soon as Coach AJ announces it (even going on the demonstration run with her!). 

Both boys have thrived with the structure the group provides even when they have had to deviate from the structure. The exercise has helped them develop and may be responsible for an increased diet as they can be so hungry after the workouts.

3) Are there any specific challenges it has helped them overcome or improve?

I think the group has allowed each boy to overcome issues. Neil is able to participate in a structured event and I think this has spread to other parts of his life. 

Tyler has overcome self imposed limits and is running longer on the treadmill at school. He is also learning about interacting with peers. Waiting and taking turns has been a huge benefit too.

4) Is there a personal achievement they or you are proud of?

I am proud of both boys and how they have grown and participated. They have shown a desire to be involved in a group and to compete at a certain level. They have their own times when they let it show but it has generalized to life too which is a huge benefit! Waiting and taking turns has been a huge growth area as well.

5) Has family life been positively effected in any way?

Yes, the group has given us some consistent places and times to be somewhere. They know what to do and for the most part know what to expect. Although they are not the best runners in the area or even our group, they appreciate what they have done and can accomplish.

6) Do they have a favorite something to share?  (food, activity, sports team, etc.)

Both Neil and Tyler enjoy the different people who show up at the practices. I think at this point, as teenage boys, their favorite things are girls and other teens.

7) Anything else you'd like to add?

I'd like to thank Coaches AJ and Matt for all they have given to this program. Volunteering so much time and energy to a population that many would have passed by is awesome.  I'd also like to shout out to the parents who show up and give their kids a chance. Some participate and help which is great to see. Also, thanks to the others who have taken different groups to a start up point and launched.

Thank you to the volunteers who show up and help out. Even when you don't work with a specific kid, you help the whole group. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Meet a few of our fantastic volunteers!
Nicole Ogin - (Peabody - Head Coach)

Nicole is a personal trainer and a distance run coach. She has coached women's run groups, a team of blind runners, youth soccer, and is coaching a charity team for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Her great energy made for a fun, successful first summer and fall season in Peabody! The team can't wait for spring.
Rachel (Cambridge & Lexington)
1) Why do you come out to run with the team?

I think I originally came out to join the team because I was looking for something a little more meaningful in my life. I'm in high school, so it can be very easy to get caught up in the stress of school and the college process. However, I think I continue to join the team because the kids are fantastic and there is a really great sense of community. 

2) What sports keep you active, or do you have a favorite run or race?

I play soccer and run track. During track season I run hurdles and long jump. 

3) Got a favorite food, crazy adventure, or an interesting or awesomely boring fact about yourself?

I fell in the first hurdles race I ever competed in, but I actually fell over the finish line and won. 

Bobby (Cambridge)
1) Why do you come out to run with the team?

Because it's a great program! It combines two things I love - running and kids! It's been so much fun getting to know them and interacting with them. It also makes my week more exciting given I spend most of my time indoors at a desk...

2) What sports keep you active, or do you have a favorite run or race?

I've run a couple half marathons (some on the west coast when I lived out there) and I was gearing up for the Philly marathon in my hometown but injured my knee. I had to stay off it a little this summer so I started swimming which has been a great workout and works muscles I forgot I had!

3) Got a favorite food, crazy adventure, or an interesting or awesomely boring fact about yourself?

My parents gave me a female cat when i was little and I named her Bill. 

2016 Events
For a recap, check out our News blog on the website.

Indoor Track Team Meet (March)
Leprechaun Shuffle 5k & Fun Run (March)
Great Bear Run 5k, 1 mile, & Kids Races (May)
Outdoor Track Team Meet (August)
Open Practices (September)
Flutie 5k (October)
Mayor's Cup XC (5k & Kids' 1 mile races) (October)
Sleepy Hollow Halloween 5k & Fun Run (October)

A look ahead...


  • Logbooks soon!  I've finally gotten to them.
  • Ongoing Hill and Distance Challenges for every age.
  • 2017 VERGE Road Race - Details TBA
  • Opportunities to participate in road races, track meets, XC, trail runs, team meets.

Winter Season:

  • JUMP for VERGE - January 20, 6-10pm
  • Indoor Team Track Meet - March 26, 9am

Reminder of "extras" available to you:

I will collaborate with your child's school or other PT/OT's. Yes, really.

Training plans may be provided, as requested, along with support and communication throughout your training process, for:

  • INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS who wish to advance their running, or to maintain a structured routine during a time when they are on break from school teams, or to train for specific events (eg.: high school athletes).

  • FAMILIES looking for direction, structure or motivation to run together on non-practice days, or to prepare for an upcoming event.

  • VOLUNTEERS who have shown a commitment to the team may also request a training plans or guidance.
Happy New Year, Everyone!

May you be kind, be open, challenge yourself, and remember to breath.


info@teamverge.org   |    Verge Inclusive Athletics, Inc.   |   www.teamverge.org

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