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2018 ALU Graduation

Congratulations to our Athlete Leadership University Class of 2018 and our Annual Leadership Award recipients!

The 2018 Special Olympics Pennsylvania Leadership Conference was held on Saturday, August 25th and Sunday, August 26th at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center in State College, PA. The Conference is the one occasion each year when all of our key leaders come together to network, share ideas, learn, and honor each other through Annual Leadership awards.

Special thanks are extended to our Leadership Banquet’s co-emcees: Carolyn Donaldson, Community Engagement Manager at WPSU Penn State, and Nicole Huya from Warren County.

Athlete Leadership University Class of 2018

During the 2018 Leadership Conference Banquet in State College, PA on Saturday, August 25th, a total of 16 Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes received a degree in Communication, Governance and/or Sport upon their successful completion of the Athlete Leadership University. Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

  • Raymond Anderson, Philadelphia, Athlete Representative
  • Tarre Apreala, Lehigh, Athlete Representative and Global Messenger
  • John Campbell, Delaware, Athlete Representative
  • Winnie Downey, Delaware, Global Messenger
  • Donald Haffelfinger, Delaware, Global Messenger
  • Jennifer Hellein, Armstrong/ Indiana, Athlete Representative
  • Timothy Hellein, Armstrong/ Indiana, Athlete Representative
  • Travis Jones, Lawrence, Global Messenger
  • Marylin Leonhart, Crawford, Athlete Representative
  • Colt List, Lawrence, Athlete Representative
  • Michael Plappert, York, Healthy Lifestyles
  • Kristine Progin, Lebanon, Athletes as Coaches
  • Brittany Thayer, Bethlehem, Healthy Lifestyles
  • Zachary Williams, Fayette, Athlete Representative

In addition, two graduates from the Class of 2017 that were unable to be a part of the Athlete Leadership University Graduation Ceremony last year were recognized.

  • Donhelen Hodges, Area M, Global Messenger
  • Noah Rinehart, York, Global Messenger

Click here to learn more about our Athlete Leadership Programs.

Click here to view more event photos.

2018 Annual Leadership Awards

Special Olympics Pennsylvania's Annual Leadership Award recipients were chosen by a statewide panel of business and community leaders representing both the private and nonprofit sectors. Nominations come from local Special Olympics programs throughout Pennsylvania. The event is part of a yearly Leadership Conference designed to provide ongoing training and recognition for Special Olympics athletes and volunteers.

Female Athlete of the Yearv2

Female Athlete of the Year, Brooke Corby from Lehigh County, pictured with SOPA CEO Matt Aaron and Board Chairman Jim Wenner.

Male Athlete of the Yearv2

Male Athlete of the Year, Brandon Krekeler from Bethlehem City, pictured with SOPA CEO Matt Aaron and Board Chairman Jim Wenner.

Click here to view more event photos.

  • Management Team Member of the Year: Dana Lindsey from Bethlehem City
  • Unified Sports Partner of the Year: Sean Fraker from Area M
  • Family of the Year: Brian, Barb, Lawrence Smith from Crawford County
  • Volunteer of the Year: Laura Neary from Bethlehem City
  • Coach of the Year: Michael Kleese from Lycoming County
  • Manager of the Year: Amara Geffen from Crawford County
  • Athlete Leadership Award: Brittney Thayer from Bethlehem City
  • Female Athlete of the Year: Brooke Corby from Lehigh County
  • Male Athlete of the Year: Brandon Krekeler from Bethlehem City
  • Program of the Year: Bucks County
  • Torch Award: Warren County

 Inaugural 2018 Golisano Health Leadership Award


Dr. Peter Seidenberg, Special Olympics Pennsylvania board member and family and sports medicine physician at Penn State Sports Medicine in State College, received the Golisano Health Leadership Award for his work to end health care disparities for athletes with intellectual disabilities on August 25, 2018.  Dr. Seidenberg pictured above with Special Olympics PA President & CEO Matt Aaron.

The Golisano Health Leadership Award recognizes leaders and organizations that are champions in health and are making significant contributions to fitness, wellness and/or equal access to health for people with intellectual disabilities. This award also promotes awareness for the progress and extraordinary efforts toward fulfilling the goals, values, and mission of Special Olympics health programs. This is the highest Special Olympics honor for health partners.

Dr. Seidenberg has been involved in the Special Olympics movement for over 18 years and has been a board member for Special Olympics Pennsylvania since 2012. He is a family medicine and sports medicine physician who holds the rank of Professor in the Departments of Orthopedics and Family & Community Medicine at Penn State University. His roles at Penn State include being the team physician for Penn State Football and Softball as well as director of the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship. As Fellowship Director, he teaches sports medicine fellows, family medicine residents, athletic trainers, and medical students how to care for Special Olympics athletes.

Additionally, Dr. Seidenberg has supervised MedFest events in Philadelphia, served as medical director for Summer Games, and has acted as physician for Team PA. His current efforts include expanding Healthy Athletes screening throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

Click here to read more via Penn State News