Rest in Peace, Charlie “Bones” Jones

On April 22, 2021, the Special Olympics New York family lost Charlie Jones to pancreatic cancer. Affectionately nicknamed “Bones” for his slender physique, Charlie was with our organization from the very beginning. He served as an area coordinator, sport director, clinician, official, coach, and so much more.

Below, several members of our community expressed what Bones meant to them.


“Charlie had a keen sense for what our athletes needed. He helped shape the organization from its earliest moments by advising leadership, recruiting athletes, and training many of our first coaches and volunteers. Over more than five decades, he continued to have an impact in several official roles, most importantly as a mentor and friend to athletes, families, and staff. Truly, we would not be who we are today without Charlie. His passing will be felt deeply throughout Special Olympics New York for many years to come.”

– Stacey Hengsterman, Special Olympics NY President & CEO


“At the heart of Bones’s dedication to Special Olympics was his boundless belief in the value of sports training and competition for those among us who may be differently abled. Add to all this, he was a gentleman who dedicated his entire adult life to improving the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities and to bring greater acceptance for them in our society.”

– Neal Johnson, former President & CEO


“Everyone knew a little bit about Bones, saw him at one event or another, but he was also a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a volunteer, a golfer, a very picky eater, an official, a sport director, a coordinator, a friend, a mentor, quietly comedic, compassionate, a gentleman, a genuine person…a man with a huge heart!”

– Ellen Pikula, Director of Program, Hudson Valley Region


“Working with Bones at our State Games basketball and golf competitions has been one of the highlights of my time with Special Olympics NY. It was always inspiring to see up close his dedication to ensuring our athletes had the best experience possible – I have tried to model my own approach after his. It was a pleasure to work with him over the years and I will treasure the friendship I built with him and Sue, his wonderful wife. It will be impossible to fill his shoes, but we can honor Bones by making sure our service to the athletes of Special Olympics NY would make him proud.”

– Daniel Kuberka, Director of Program, Western Region


“Words cannot express the sorrow and heartbreak of hearing the news of your passing. Thank you for all you have done, my friend. You will always be an inspiration to many and your legacy will continue to shine brightly for years to come. Gone from our sights, but never from our hearts.”

– Teresa Gilli, Director of Development, Hudson Valley Region


“I did not have the opportunity to interact with Charlie near enough, but when I did, he just had this way of welcoming you in, making you feel like family from the minute you met. He had an infectious laugh, a smile that could be felt, and a dedication to Special Olympics that will forever leave its mark. I did not interact with Charlie near enough, but he was family.”

– Danielle Armstrong, Associate Director of Program, Capital District Region


“My prayers go out to [Charlie’s] family. I will play golf forever because of Charlie ‘Bones’ Jones. He is the greatest golf coach I ever had…[He] will be missed by many of us. RIP Charlie ‘Bones’ Jones.”

– Katy Sanchez, Special Olympics NY athlete