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On Friday, November 25th the 137th Annual Philadelphia Charity Ball took place. That evening, the Jimmy Medal awarded to Michael Caporale. The Jimmy Medal identifies and celebrates individuals who make a positive difference in the lives of others. Through their actions, they exemplify the virtues of resiliency, humility, empathy, and loyalty.
Mikey, diagnosed with autism, preferred being alone in his early years, watching and playing video games. His parents and stepparents felt that Mikey needed more engagement with the real world. He needed human connection. Mikey had shown some interest in videoing. Self-taught, he eventually started to capture video. At the age of 13, he discovered video blogs and started his very own YouTube channel and Mikey Cap Productions was born. The video camera got him out of the house and into the community, making friends both online and off. His YouTube channel and social media presence got a big boost from fellow local YouTubers with an international following exposing Mikey to others like him around the world. He made it his mission to show them that they are never alone, that they always have a friend in Mikey Cap. He is making a positive difference already in those he has reached, and encourages them to do the same, with the promise of a “shout-out” or repost as a reward.
Now in high school, Mikey followed in his big brother’s footsteps, by joining Special Olympics. He participates in bowling, athletics, volleyball, basketball, and soccer! Special Olympics is not only an outlet for much needed physical activity, it’s an opportunity every day for Mikey to build strong, lasting friendships with kids his own age, and to learn more about himself. He loves to record all his practices, capturing his feelings, egging on his coaches, cheering on his teammates. Special Olympics helped to round out the potential that everyone who knew him could already see: his compassion, his competitive nature, his strong spirit. And he plans to continue to participate in Special Olympics, to video for Mikey Cap Productions, and to spread the word that anyone can make a difference, if they try.
Philadelphia Charity Ball attendees and our athletes entered the Crystal ea Room under the sword arch of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, At the ball, Mikey was joined by his supportive family and fellow South Philadelphia teammates, Victoria Amaradio and Bianca Pedulla as he accepted the award. Mikey, Victoria, and Bianca indulged in a wonderful meal and, in true Special Olympics form, when it was time to hit the dance floor, Mikey grabbed his teammates and escorted them to the dance floor and showed the crowds their moves.
On Friday, November 27th, three athletes along with their dates attended the 136th annual Philadelphia Charity Ball. Special Olympics PA has been the beneficiary of the ball for multiple years, and was the beneficiary again this year. Special Olympics athletes Ian Capacio and Ally Rutizer attended the Ball along with Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) athlete Brandon Velez-Roa who took IUS partner, Katlyn Geist as his date.
Brandon Velez-Roa, who is a student at Abraham Lincoln High School, received the Jimmy Award at the 2015 Philadelphia Charity Ball. The Jimmy Medal identifies and celebrates individuals who make a positive difference in the lives of others. Though their actions they exemplify the virtues of resiliency, humility, empathy and loyalty.
Brandon participates as an athlete in both Unified Bocce and Soccer with Special Olympics at his school. “Brandon is a fantastic athlete who loves competing and displays tremendous effort and attitude both on and off the field,” said his coach Michael Turchi. His peers and teachers would describe him as kind, friendly, coachable and very lovable young man. Brandon’s outgoing and optimistic demeanor have made him not only a great athlete, but also a wonderful friend and role model for all the students at Abraham Lincoln High School. He has participated with his fellow team and classmates in the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign at Abraham Lincoln High School, which is a Special Olympics initiative that brings education and light to the word ‘retard’. Through the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign, students pledge not to use the ‘R’ word and by making that pledge they promote respect and an inclusive climate for all students. Brandon truly embodies the four pillars of the Jimmy Award: Resiliency, Empathy, Humility and Loyalty and Coach Turchi along with Special Olympics Philadelphia are honored to nominate him to receive this accolade.
Check out the photos of the event by Bowden Photographics.
On Saturday, November 29th, three athletes including Philadelphia’s own Dadly Thenor, attended the 2014 Philadelphia Charity Ball as guests of honor. Founded in 1881, the Philadelphia Charity Ball celebrated its 135th annual ball. In a new partnership with the Philadelphia Charity Ball, Special Olympics has been named the benefiting charity of this incredible event over the next few years.
The 2014 Philadelphia Charity Ball was an absolute spectacle and felt like a storybook come to life! The athletes, their guests, and SOPA staff representative, Britt Kleine, had a magical time and created memories that will be cherished for years to come.
A highlight of Saturday evening’s festivities was the awarding of the Jimmy Medal. The Jimmy Medal, a medal that identifies and celebrates individuals who make a positive difference in the lives of others, was given to our very own Dadly Thenor! Dadly’s smile and positive outlook inspire many of us daily, but on this particular night, he touched the lives of everyone in the ballroom.
Thank you, Philadelphia Charity Ball! We cannot wait to be a part of it again in 2015!