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Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) is proud to announce seven athletes and one coach will be representing the United States as part of Special Olympics USA at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games. The Games will be held March 14-25, 2017, in Graz, Ramsau and Schladming, Austria. Our Pennsylvania participants include: Regine Theodore-Wise from York County (Alpine Skiing); Ernest Reich from Montgomery County (Alpine Skiing); Jenna Schultz from Erie City (Cross Country Skiing - not competing due to injury); Justin Grimley from Chester County (Snowshoeing); Joni Talavera from Bethlehem City (Figure Skating); Dana Shick from Area M (Speed Skating); Timothy McConnell from Area M (Speed Skating); and Coach Linda Huber from York County (Figure Skating).  In addition, Becky Fischer and Todd Geiwitz will represent Pennsylvania as Floor Hockey Officials for the World Games.

Special Olympics USA is the national team that represents the United States at the Special Olympics World Summer and Winter Games. The 210-member delegation is comprised of 150 athletes, 40 coaches and approximately 20 delegation members who support team operations. The delegation also includes Special Olympics Unified Sports teams, where people with and without intellectual disabilities compete together as teammates. Team members will compete in seven sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing and speed skating.

World Games Athletes Image Updated

Every two years, the world transcends the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion to come together for the Special Olympics World Games. Alternating between summer and winter Games, this event is the flagship event of the Special Olympics movement, which promotes equality, tolerance and acceptance around the world.

This is expected to be the largest Special Olympics World Winter Games in history. An estimated 2,600 athletes from 106 nations will compete in 9 Olympic-type sports at the 2017 Special Olympics World Games: Floorball, Floor Hockey, Stick Shooting, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing.

Serving as the Premier Sponsor of the team is Bank of America. In addition, ESPN’s global television networks and digital media will bring extensive coverage to sports fans and supporters of the Special Olympics movement around the world. ESPN’s coverage, from March 18-25, marks the first-ever global coverage for a World Winter Games event.

As an official broadcaster of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, ESPN’s television coverage will be carried across its networks in the U.S. as well as streamed through WatchESPN and the ESPN App.

Other Official sponsors for Special Olympics USA include Finish Line, Burton and Champion.

For more information about World Games visit www.austria2017.org/ or http://specialolympicsusa.org/2017/ for more information about Special Olympics USA!  Click here to visit our SOPA World Games web page.


Chief Matthew Porter To Participate in the Final Leg

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Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) is proud to have Chief Matthew Porter represent our state as a 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games Final Leg Torch Runner. The 2017 World Games will be held in Austria (Graz and Schladming) from March 14 - 25, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg will transpire from March 9 - 18. For more information about the Final Leg, visit http://www.letr-finalleg.org/page17/index.html.

About Chief Matthew Porter

Chief Matthew Porter has been involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for the last 6 years, just before Pittsburgh’s initial Polar Plunge Fundraiser. As his department’s team captain in the “Battle of the Badges” competition, he consistently lead his team to win as one of the top fundraising agencies. In the past six years, his team has raised over $285,000.00 for the athletes of Pennsylvania!   Chief Porter has been with the Port Authority Police Department for 23 years. Starting as a Patrolman, he has worked his way up through the ranks as Sergeant, Lieutenant and was promoted to Chief of Police in July of 2015.

Chief Porter has also served as a committee member for the Western Pennsylvania LETR and was an integral part in establishing the bylaws and structure to take the LETR movement state wide. He has taken a lead role in various fundraisers and awareness events. The highlights of his involvement with the LETR are the Medal Ceremonies, being a Guardian of the Flame of Hope, and the true friendships that he has made with the Special Olympics athletes.  

Matt has been married to his wife Debbie for the last 12 years and they reside in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

About the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg

Since 1993, law enforcement officers from around the world have participated in the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run prior to the Special Olympics World Summer and Winter Games. The tradition of the Final Leg Torch Run is for law enforcement officers representing their country, state and Torch Run Program, to act as “Guardians of the Flame” and carry the Special Olympics Torch and "Flame of Hope" to the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games. This Torch Run event is called the Final Leg because it represents the culmination of Torch Run events that have occurred previously throughout the World. The Torch Run Final Leg is not only a salute to the athletes from around the World who will compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games, but also an honor for the participating law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes who comprise the Torch Run Final Leg Team.