Hall of Fame


The Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Hall of Fame honors athletes and volunteers who have made outstanding contributions both on and off the field of competition. This prestigious event is now held during our annual Leadership Conference and Banquet in State College, PA.


We have thousands of success stories of individuals who have benefited from participating in Special Olympics.  But each year we choose only a few athletes and volunteers who have demonstrated positive integrity and continued loyalty to the Special Olympics program, thereby upholding the honor of the organization.

The athletes who are honored must have participated in Special Olympics for a minimum of 10 years. They must have illustrated skill growth in a specific sport, exhibited outstanding sportsmanship, and recruited eligible athletes into the Special Olympics program.  Likewise, all volunteers must meet strict requirements, including 10 years of ongoing involvement in Special Olympics, participation at various levels (such as coaching, games management), and the active recruitment of athletes and volunteers.

A panel of professionals from across the state makes the selections based on these criteria.

Hall of Fame History

There is no typical Special Olympics athlete. They are young and old, from across town and across the world. They do, however, share one important character trait: a competitive fire to do their personal best. This fire is so intense that it lights up the lives of everyone around them.                                                             

That's why SOPA established the Hall of Fame in 1996: to share with a larger audience the inspiring stories of individuals who had heard "you can't do it," all through their lives - but proved that they could once they were given a chance.

SOPA has never-ending stories of personal courage on the part of its athletes and selfless giving by its volunteers. The Hall of Fame is a place for SOPA to celebrate its many deserving stars.

On Thursday, May 22, 2014, SOPA hosted its 19th Annual Hall of Fame at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel in Philadelphia, PA. We did not hold a Hall of Fame event in 2015 or 2016, but will hold it biennially (every other year) beginning in 2017.

Click here to see our complete list of Hall of Famers since 1996!

 2017 Hall of Fame Award Recipients

2017 Hall of Famers Crop

The 2017 Special Olympics Pennsylvania Leadership Conference was held on Saturday, August 26th and Sunday, August 27th 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 and Biennial Hall of Fame (10+ years of service) awards. Pictured above from left to right are our Hall of Fame Award recipients: Special Olympics PA President, Matt Aaron; Joan Arrowood, Lawrence Rupert; Andrew Mayer; Amanda Reiss; and Special Olympics PA Board Chairman, Tony Gilespie.  Click here to view more event photos.

2017 Biennial Hall of Fame Award Recipients:

  • Amanda Reiss, Bethlehem City – Athlete
  • Lawrence Rupert, Clinton County – Volunteer
  • Joan Arrowood, Bucks County – Volunteer
  • Andrew Mayer, Washington County – Athlete