Getting to Know the Games Organizing Committee

Whether regional or statewide, small-scale or hundreds-strong, every Special Olympics New York competition is a team effort, both on the field and behind the scenes. You’re probably aware of our coaches, volunteers, and staff. But what about our Games Organizing Committees?

Better known by the initialism “GOC,” these committees collect passionate subject-matter experts from throughout local communities to organize and execute competitions and events.

We know that’s pretty general, so we wanted to highlight a specific GOC. Our Long Island Spring Games GOC is the perfect example.

Spring Games at Plainedge High School

“Plainedge likes to do big. We are big, big, big, everything.”

That’s according to Bridget Murphy, Director of Special Education at Plainedge Union Free School District. Plainedge is hosting Spring Games for the first time on Saturday, May 4, and Bridget is one of the GOC’s core members.

“I can’t even get down the hallway because people are coming out and saying, ‘I want to volunteer!'” Bridget said. “We talk about Special Olympics all the time. We’re always getting people invested and interested.”

Spring Games is a huge undertaking. In fact, it’s our Long Island Region’s biggest event of the year, with more than 500 athletes and 300 volunteers (including many from nearby Hofstra University), in addition to an entire Olympic Village full of local sponsors and companies. Over 100 local cheerleaders will be cheering on our athletes at Opening Ceremonies, and the competition will even be livestreamed for the first time this year. So how does an event of this scale get off the ground?

“Our GOC has about 30 members,” Bridget explained. “They include leaders from the Town of Oyster Bay, local police departments, and the community.”

Within the GOC, numerous subcommittees focus on specific topics and tasks, such as volunteer recruitment, public relations, fundraising, food, technology, and audio/video. We employ a similar system at our State Games, and will be relying on our GOC in Ithaca coming up in June for Summer Games.

“The Spring Games group is special because faculty members, staff, and parents have taken the lead, despite this being their first time.” That’s according to David Durandisse, Special Olympics NY Director of Program – Competition. Dave has been running this event for years, and since it changes location every two years, it always feels fresh. “The community has been excited to support us as a direct result of this group and its passionate leaders.”

How Can Your Community Get Involved?

Plainedge’s outstanding leadership is inspiring communities throughout the state to create GOCs just like theirs. Even if you’re not in Long Island, there are Special Olympics NY events everywhere that need committees like these. We even use similar setups for many of our fundraisers, including Polar Plunges.

“If you want to see what we do, come and watch us at Plainedge,” said Bridget. “A community group could sign up together and see how it works.”

“We transition every two years so that several places have the opportunity to bring Spring Games to their community,” Dave added. “We’re looking for host schools and community leaders who can rally people to a common cause. If you can do that, you’ll have great success replicating different versions of a GOC.”

If you’re ready to get involved, please learn more on our volunteering page. And a huge thank you to our Spring Games GOC and Plainedge community for their support. Here’s looking forward to a fantastic event!