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When one thinks of Special Olympics New York, hiking probably isn’t the first event that comes to mind. However, it’s just one of the many fitness opportunities we’ve helped develop throughout New York State that encourages our athletes, friends, and fans to stay healthy between (and even during) sports seasons. Take the Genesee Region’s Unified Hiking Club as an example.

The Unified Hiking Club features 17 hikers who walk together every Tuesday. Their goal is simple: be active, make friends, and enjoy the outdoors.

The club began with a grant from Special Olympics International. Since then, it’s expanded into a year-round activity. Participants are encouraged to attend at least six sessions, but the club is ongoing, even during traditional sport seasons. For those involved, it’s an amazing opportunity for both fitness and socialization.

“My favorite part of the hiking club is meeting new friends and enjoying new adventures at the park,” said Jordan, a Special Olympics NY athlete and Unified Hiking Club member.

Other regions are seeing the benefits of clubs like this as well. For example, Athlete Congress Members from our New York City Region have created a hiking club of their own. They too meet weekly, and they hike to encourage fitness and friendship.

To be clear, these hiking clubs are not competitive events. Unlike our teams and training clubs, members are not preparing for local, regional, or super-regional competition. The hiking clubs are, however, cooperative activities that foster comradery and good physical health—much like our core 22 sports. So though they’re not our main focus, activities like these hiking clubs are definitely within our wheelhouse.

Said Betsy Mihm, Director of Program in the Genesee Region, “Our Unified Hiking Club brings together Special Olympics athletes, friends, and family members to learn about hiking and healthy lifestyle habits.”

Here at Special Olympics New York, we’ve made the health and wellness of our athletes a priority for 2019 and beyond. Ongoing initiatives such as the Genesee Region’s Unified Hiking Club, the NYC Region’s hiking club, and Fit 5 NY help keep our athletes fit and active for their sports seasons, and for life.

“New York has historically led on issues that threaten inclusion and equity for its citizens,” wrote Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman in a 2018 article. “Working to prevent health disparity for people with ID [intellectual disabilities] is an issue we can no longer afford to sit back and watch on. It’s time for New York to get in the game.”

Programs like the Unified Hiking Club prove that we’re serious about these objectives.

If you’re interested in starting a similar activity in your area, contact your regional office. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Monday May 6, 2019

ALBANY, NY — Special Olympics New York Unified Basketball season is underway, with games beginning in high schools throughout New York state last week.

A complete schedule of Unified basketball games is here.

More than 6,000 students from more than 150 schools in New York currently participate in Unified Sports, where an approximately equal number of students with and without intellectual disabilities play on the same team. In addition, youth leaders who participate in Unified sports are creating inclusive school communities where students of all abilities are accepted and celebrated.

Media planning to attend a game are encouraged to confirm with the host school, as games are subject to scheduling changes.

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About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest statewide Special Olympics chapter in the country, serving more than 67,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with nearly 150 schools statewide to offer unified sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are provided at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. Learn more at www.specialolympicsNY.org and #SpecialOlympicsNY.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Robyn Armando, Vice President Marketing & Branding, (518) 930-4890, rarmando@nyso.org

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Offers Statewide Sponsorship of 2019 Torch Run Season

Schenectady, NY – Members of law enforcement from more than 470 agencies and offices throughout New York State are teaming up with Special Olympics New York athletes, families and supporters again this year to carry the “Flame of Hope” through communities in every region leading up to Special Olympics New York Summer Games, which will be held in Dutchess County June 14-15.

Members of the public are encouraged to join the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) in their local community as a show of support for Special Olympics New York and the message of inclusion that the statewide organization represents.

#FollowTheTorch: A complete schedule of Torch Runs is available online here.

LETR originated in Kansas City in 1981, when a police chief sought to have his department more involved in supporting the special needs community. Today, LETR is the largest public awareness and fundraising group to support Special Olympics worldwide. More than 6,000 members of law enforcement partner with Special Olympics New York annually.

As a sponsor of the Special Olympics New York Law Enforcement Torch Run, a $10,000 investment, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que will support all 56 legs of the Torch Run in 2019 throughout New York.

Members of the public who cannot attend a Torch Run but would like to support the event with a monetary donation may do so at: https://www.specialolympics-ny.org/FollowTheTorch/.

The next leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run will be held Saturday, April 27, at Niagara University in Western New York.

 

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About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving nearly 68,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with nearly 150 schools statewide to offer unified sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers.  Learn more at www.specialolympicsNY.org and #SpecialOlympicsNY.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Robyn Armando, Vice President Marketing & Branding, (518) 930-4890, rarmando@nyso.org

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Local Entrepreneur Michele Liddle Named as First Special Olympics New York “Athlete Health Champion”

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

ROCHESTER, NY — Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman and The Perfect Granola Founder Michele Liddle today announced a partnership to promote athlete health in the Greater Rochester area. 

As part of its official sponsorship for the Special Olympics New York Winter Games, which will be held in Rochester Feb. 22-23, the company will provide 2,000 of its signature gluten-free granola bars to athletes. The bars will be handed out as athletes finish their competitions – encouragement to refuel after burning their energy on the ski slopes, skating rinks, or floor hockey courts.

“When Michele and I got to talking about her sponsorship of Winter Games, we quickly agreed that there was so much more we could do together to promote health and wellness among our athletes in Rochester,” said Hengsterman. “As Special Olympics New York’s first official ‘Athlete Health Champion’, Michele will be exploring new and innovative ways to help our athletes lead healthier lives not only during this major competition but year-round. We are grateful to have fans like Michele who know, like we do, that it’s harder to compete if you’re not healthy.”

“We are so excited to form a long-term partnership with Special Olympics New York as an Athlete Health Champion,” said Liddle. “Eating well is so important for overall health and wellness. We look forward to supporting the Winter Games and developing new programs throughout the year we support this wonderful organization.”

The Perfect Granola began in Michele’s family kitchen as a way to feed the hungry, preparing food that could be given away to help those in need while also empowering the underserved. Today, The Perfect Granola gives thousands of pounds of food and support to hundreds of organizations. Its products are pure and simple and don’t just feed your body, but nourish your soul. To learn more, visit www.theperfectgranola.com.

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About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving nearly 68,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with nearly 150 schools statewide to offer unified sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers.  Learn more at www.specialolympicsNY.org and #SpecialOlympicsNY.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Robyn Armando, Vice President Marketing & Communications, (518) 588-3459, rarmando@nyso.org

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