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Every two years, thousands of Special Olympics athletes worldwide come together to showcase their athletic skills and celebrate the spirit of Special Olympics in alternating World Summer and World Winter Games. The first Special Olympics World Games took place in 1968 and since then have evolved into a world-class sporting event similar in size and scope to the Olympic Games, attracting a wide range of sponsors, supporters and media. 

Following the Olympic ideals, Special Olympics World Games are abundant in tradition.  All World Games feature Opening and Closing Ceremonies, a Torch Run public awareness event prior to the Games, cultural activities, and world-class sports competition.

The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games are being held in Austria.

The event will be held in Austria (Graz and Schladming) from March 14-25. You can visit the website for more specific information: or view the  Special Olympics USA Fact Sheet.

2017 Winter World Games in Austria

SOPA participants were chosen via a random draw during SOPA’s Winter Games at Seven Springs on February 7th. Congratulations to the athletes and coach who will be a part of SO USA for these games. Please direct questions to Mike Ermer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Regine Theodore-Wise – York County (Alpine Skiing)

Ernest Reich – Montgomery County (Alpine Skiing)

Jenna Schultz – Erie City (Cross Country Skiing - not competing due to injury)

Justin Grimley – Chester County (Snowshoe)

Joni Talavera – Bethlehem City (Figure Skating)

Dana Shick – Area M (Speed Skating)

Timothy McConnell – Area M (Speed Skating)

Coach Linda HuberYork County (Figure Skating)

World Games Athletes Image Updated

Chief Matthew Porter Participates in the Final Leg

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Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) thanks Chief Matthew Porter for representing our state as a 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games Final Leg Torch Runner. The 2017 World Games is being held in Austria (Graz and Schladming) from March 14 - 25, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg took place from March 9 - 18.  For more information about the Final Leg, visit

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.