On Saturday, August 19th, we had a Shop and Share at Lilly Pulitzer in the King of Prussia Mall! Throughout the day, customers got to see Lilly Pulitzer’s new collection as well as get information about all of the amazing work we do in Philadelphia. Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia had a table with information and two photo books that display our Young Athletes program, Healthy Athletes, Leprechaun Run, Polar Plunge, our partnership with ESPN and MLS, and of course, all the sports we do!

Between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm, athletes Katie Moore and Allie Ruitzer came to hang out, talk to customers, answer questions, and pose for photos! As customers made purchases, Allie and Katie took turns stopping customers on their way out to thank them for their support for sports, inclusion and Special Olympics! 

Thank you, Lilly Pulitzer! We can’t wait to do it again!


Our favorite photos from the Shop and Share at Lilly Pulitzer:

On Thursday, June 29th, Abraham Lincoln High School‘s Unified Soccer team was invited to a Media Day with the Philadelphia Union in preparation for their Unified Exchange game on Saturday, August 5th against FC Dallas. In an ever-growing partnership with ESPN and MLS Works, Special Olympics participates in a Unified Exchange program which provides opportunities for Unified soccer teams to participate in a 1st Team MLS experience.  Unified soccer teams, comprised of players with and without intellectual disabilities, travel from their home city to other MLS markets to compete in exhibition matches with their Special Olympic counterparts. In Philadelphia, our Unified Team becomes the Unified Philadelphia Union!  Unified matches are scheduled in conjunction with MLS club matches, providing MLS fans with an opportunity to witness first-hand the talents and abilities of Special Olympics athletes and unified partners.

The day did not end there! After getting official letters and jerseys, it was time to pose for official Philadelphia Union headshots and moving headshots in their new uniforms to be broadcast on the big screen on August 5th against FC Dallas’ United team.  As if they could not be any more excited, the Lincoln team got to watch the first team practice – they were so inspired by their practice, they started practicing alongside them! As the sun started to bring the heat, our student-athletes got a chance to cool off with a tour of the players’ home away from home and toured the building that houses Philadelphia Union’s training, nutrition, and relaxation facilities used by the professional soccer players.

On the ride home, many athletes shared Lincoln striker, Brandon’s sentiment about how honored he was to be contracted by the Philadelphia Union and how excited he was to play in the Unified Exhibition in August. Kelvin, another Lincoln athlete, even remarked how today was the best day of his life!  

Join us on August 5th as we watch Philadelphia Union take on FC Dallas and then stay afterward to watch the Unified Exchange Game! The Philadelphia Union/FC Dallas game starts at 7:00 pm and the Unified Exchange Game is right after (on the field!). If you purchase a ticket through this link, you will be sitting among the Unified Star Players! Tickets are $35.00 each and can be purchased here.


After months of hard work and determination, 9 schools from the Philadelphia area gathered for the 5th annual Unified Soccer Championships. George Washington High School hosted the 2017 Unified Soccer Championship on May 30. Two of George Washington’s very own students, Angel Rosa and Alyssa Henry, kicked things off with a great introduction to their school and emcee, Marc Zumoff, announcer for the Philadelphia 76ers on. Zumoff was beyond excited to be at the Championship and commenced the event with a parade of athletes. The roster included Abraham Lincoln High School, Audenried High School, Frankford High School, Martin Luther King High School, School of the Future, Sayre High School, Thomas Edison High School, and hostGeorge Washington High School. The crowds roared with applause as each team paraded across the field. After the athletes and partners took their seats, it was time for the Frankford High School Color Guard to present the colors. Before the national anthem was played, there was a moment of silence for Brandon Santos, a George Washington soccer and bocce player who passed away prior to the Championship. Britt Kleine, Director of Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia gave remarks to the crowd which included honoring Brandon’s memory by reminding students that playing and living unified isn’t confined to when they participate in Special Olympics activities, but rather a way of life, a life of inclusion. Matthew Aaron, President, and CEO of Special Olympics PA echoed those sentiments with stories he has heard from athletes and partners across the state.

Opening Ceremonies continued with Angel and Alyssa returning to the podium to give their experiences and how the Interscholastic Unified Sports program has made an impact on their lives. Ronald, Faheem, and Brooke, then lead the athletes and partners in the Special Olympics Athlete Oath that emphasizes the importance of sportsmanship over victory. Next, George Washington Coaches Yvonne Schwiker and Lori Solomon lead coaches in the Coaches Oath. With the reciting of the oaths complete, it was time for the highlight of Opening Ceremonies, the lighting of the cauldron! Philadelphia Police Highway patrol officers led the Flame of Hope procession on motorcycles as Deputy Commissioner, Dennis Wilson, marched alongside eager athletes and partners carrying the torch. The ignition of the Special Olympics cauldron sent a surge of energy through the crowds as Ronald, Faheem, and Brooke kept the excitement up by declaring the games OPEN!

The competition was spread across six fields and each field held tremendous competition. Most of the matches were close calls as each athlete and partner had their eye on the trophy and gold medal that could soon be theirs. As each team gave their all, spectators and coaches were there to support their favorite team and witness the true joy of sport. However, the fun was not limited to the competition. Olympic Village featured cornhole, lawn games, soccer in an inflatable field.  Plenty of delicious, and nutritious snacks and souvenirs were also available. Thank you to our great partners, Philadelphia Union, Shop Rite of Morrell Plaza, EAT.RIGHT.NOW, and Dave and Buster’s for providing a festive Olympic Village! Although there was a little shower throughout the day, smiles were abundant at the Unified Soccer Championship!



by Lexy Pierce



Blue Division
Green Division
Red Division
1st Place
Abraham Lincoln 1 Furness 1 Sayre 2
2nd Place
Thomas Edison 1 Audenried 2 Abraham Lincoln 2
3rd Place
Martin Luther King 2 Thomas Edison 2 Furness 2
4th Place
George Washington 1 School of the Future 2 Sayre 1
5th Place
Audenried 1 George Washington 2 Frankford 2
6th Place
School of the Future 1 Martin Luther King 2 Frankford 1


Round Robin/Medal Scores:

Round Robin
Field 1
Field 2
Field 3
Field 4
Field 5
Field 6
Round 1
TE1 (5) vs. GW1 ( 2) SOF1 (1) vs. MLK1 (3) GW2 (0) vs. AUD2 (0) FURN1 (4) vs. TE2 (1) SAY1 (1) vs. AL2 (1) FRANK1 (2) vs. SAY2 (2)
Round 2
GW1 (3) vs. AUD2 (2) MLK1 (2) vs. AL1 (4) AUD2 (1) vs. SOF2 (0) TE2 (6) vs. MLK2 (0) AL2 (3) vs. FRNK2 (0) FRNK1 (0) vs. FURN2 (2)
Round 3
AUD1 (1) vs. TE1 (5) AL1 (5) vs. SOF1 (1) GW2 (0) vs. SOF2 (1) MLK2 (2) vs. FURN1 (4) FRNK2 (0) vs. SAY1 (0) FRANK1 (0) vs. FURN2 (2)
Medal Round
TE1 (1) vs.  AL1 (6) AUD2(0) vs FURN1(2) AL2 (2) vs. SAY2 (4)

GW1(0) vs. MLK1(1)

SOF2(1) vs. TE2(2) SAY1(2) vs. FURN2(6)

On Saturday, April 29th, Special Olympics Philadelphia held our 40th Annual Philadelphia Spring Games at William Penn Charter (3000 West School House Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144) and it was an absolute success! We had a record-breaking event on numerous levels, including the number of counties hosted (six), the number of athletes competing,  and celebrity and political representatives! It looked like it would be a cloudy day when it started, but as we were about to start the sun came out.Click to View Full-Screen Image

The day started at 8:00 am at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The Flame of Hope was escorted by law enforcement from the Upper Gwynedd Township Police Department, Philadelphia Police Department, lead by Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson. Members carried the Flame of Hope from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to William Penn Charter. At 9:00 am, Opening Ceremonies began enthusiastically as athlete Allie Rutizer, and Sports Anchor for Comcast SportsNet, John Boruk emceed the morning. To lead the parade of athletes, West Powelton Drum Squad lead the way before we introduced athletes from  Bethlehem City, Chester County, Delaware County,  Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and of course, Philadelphia County. Besides athletic teams, basketball teams, and tennis teams, we also welcomed our Young Athletes, Gymnastics Team, and athletes from School of the Future and some of our bocce athletes. Athletes in the parade were escorted by members of the Temple University Football Team. After the athletes took their seats, a remarkable edition of the National Anthem was sung by a parent, Denine Aversa as Frankford High Schools Junior ROTC Color Guard lead by Cadet Kevin Olsen presented the colors. 

Click to View Full-Screen ImageAfterward, Director of Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia, Britt Kleine, spoke and introduced Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, who gave words of his support of Special Olympics, appreciation for everyone involved, and encouragement for the athletes about to compete. After Mayor Kenney spoke, Councilman Derek Green spoke and presented Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia with a Citation from the City of Philadelphia to honor the 40th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Spring Games. Opening Ceremony ended with the Flame of Hope being brought in by the Law Enforcement Torch Run and escorted by, retired professional boxer, Bernard Hopkins. After the excitement of the Flame of Hope arriving at the 40th Annual Philadelphia Spring Games, Allie and John kept the energy high by proclaiming the Games Open!Click to View Full-Screen Image

Athletes parted ways to partake in athletics (track and field), basketball, and tennis competition. As competition started, our VIP guests got to participate in a Unified Bocce Experience with some of our community bocce athletes as well as athletes from our Interscholastic Unified School, School of the Future. Two courts were set up and after a brief training for our VIP guests, the experience was on its way! Everyone who participated had a great time and athletes played alongside our VIP guests. Our Young Athletes who are not old enough to compete as an official Special Olympics athlete, showed off their skills at William Penn Charter’s playground as they completed an obstacle course that was set up especially to show off their skills.

Click to View Full-Screen ImageBesides competition, the Olympic Village offered a place for athletes to relax and do some fun activities while waiting for their turn to compete. In addition, sponsor PriceWaterhouseCoopers was at the grill, firing up some burgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches for spectators as well as selling some beverages and souvenirs. The day ended with athletes being awarded medals in order of their finish at their respective competition site. Everyone left happy, and for those athletics and tennis athletes – a little tanner!

Thank you to the coaches, assistant coaches, and families who helped all of our athletes prepare for the 40th Annual Philadelphia Spring Games! A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who made this day possible!



Coming Soon!


Team Athletes Place
Bad News Bears    



Coming Soon!


Via Kristen Applegate YouTube channel on behalf of Temple University


Photos by Dane


PHOTOS: Special Olympics holds annual Philadelphia Spring Games at Penn Charter in East Falls


Thank you to our sponsors:

for making this event a celebration!

                       PECO Logo 


Legacy Youth Tennis and Education Logo     


Brandywine Realty Trust LogoThe Gish Rockford Family

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, SOPA Philly hosted a Unified Bocce Demonstration at the School District of Philadelphia Head Quarters (440) in the atrium for all to see! The two winning teams from our Philadelphia Unified Bocce Championship championship that did not advance to Hershey – a team from Thomas Edison and another from George Washington, along with a team from Kensington HS joined us at 440 to take part in this fun day.

There was a small program prior to the demonstration where a partner from the George Washington team who played in Hershey addressed the crowd and shared their experience in Hershey, and then two athletes from Edison.

The Edison and George Washington teams played off against one another to demonstrate a skilled game and teammates from Kensington played alongside administrative personnel from within the school building who came down to experience the magic of Unified firsthand. Not only did administrative personnel come down to play, there was a crowd watching the showcase, including from the balconies above. 

Photos from the Showcase

On Tuesday, October 25, 2016, thirteen high schools came together for training to be student leaders in their respective schools at Special Olympics Philadelphia’s “I Have a Voice” Unified Youth Summit. The Philadelphia School District hosted the summit at their headquarters with support from HOBY, and The Philadelphia Foundation. Schools in attendance at the Unified Youth Summit were: Abraham Lincoln High School, Frankford High School, Furness High School, George Washington High School, High School of the Future, Hill Freedman High School, Martin Luther King Jr High School, Parkway West High School, Sayre High School, Simon Gratz High School, South Philadelphia High School, Thomas Edison High School, and Universal Audenried Charter High School.

The day started with opening remarks from President and CEO of Special Olympics PA, Matthew Aaron, Director of Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia, Britt Kleine. After opening remarks had been made, Brandon Velez-Roa and Kenny Brough from Abraham Lincoln High School shared how the Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) Program has it brought them together and made a huge impact on their lives. Superintendent, Dr. Hite, gave some remarks and inspired the students in attendance to learn as much as the could during the summit to continue making a positive change within their school. 

The main part of the day was a presentation from by Kevin Grace, from Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY). Kevin lead the students in exercises about working together and setting goals. At the end of the presentation, students constructively discussed issues in their schools and how they could implement change in those situations by creating a game plan that the could execute in the academic year.

Youth Leadership is one of the components of the Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) Program, a program that brings individuals with and without intellectual disabilities together to train and compete on the same sports team as well as make a change in their school through a Unified School Club. Through these clubs, students act as leaders and promote inclusion through Whole School Engagement Activites. 


The Philadelphia Polar Plunge is coming back to town!
Mark your calendars for Friday, December 2nd and get excited to take an icy cold dip in one of our two above ground pools at Drexel University’s Fitness Plaza.
Join us as hundreds of brave individuals jump into an icy cold pool to warm the hearts of our Special Olympics Philadelphia athletes. The goal of the #PhillyPlunge is to raise funds for Philadelphia athletes and to build awareness of the many activities we offer to our athletes free of charge.
How do YOU want to participate?
Plunge during one of our time slots into one of our icy cold pools!
Be the leader of your celebration (group of polar bears) and let the fun begin!
Come be part of the fun, but stay on warm, dry land.
Can’t make the date? Sponsor a Plunger
Past participants can login with your old username/password
New participants must create a new profile

#PhillyPlunge Schedule:

Cool Schools Plunge for High Schools
10am – 12pm
Business Plunge for Business Executives
12pm – 2pm
General Public Plunge for everyone!
5pm – 7pm
University Plunge for College Students
7pm -9pm
Need some help signing up online? Click for step-by-step instructions:

Between May 21st and June 22nd the 2016 TD Tour took place. Twelve Philadelphia athletes toured the twenty-two TD bank branches in Philadelphia as well as visited corporate TD in Center City. The TD Tour is when Special Olympics athletes visit various TD Banks to thank them for their support and sponsorship throughout the year. The athletes who participated in the 2016 TD Tour are Megan Murphy, Cory Jenkins, Ryan Bogan, Daniel Amrik, Sharon Quarles, Ian Capacio, Allison “Allie” Rutizer, Craig Lawson, Joseph Yerkes, Lisa Barber, Tyreek Perkins and Adrienna Nieves.

These athletes had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of almost every TD bank they visited and see things the public cannot see.  They were given the royal treatment and they could not contain their excitement.  Athletes were able to talk to customers through the drive through window using a microphone, see where TD’s clients’ valuables are kept in the vault, learn what tellers do on a daily basis, assist tellers with deposits, withdrawals and other transactions, and some even got “locked” in the vault! 

Each bank was extremely welcoming to our athletes providing snacks and small TD Bank themed items. Our Philadelphia athletes had a lot of fun getting to know our new TD friends and touring where they work!  The smiles on their faces were contagious and the athletes had every TD worker laughing and smiling. Thank you to all of the TD Banks who hosted us and we cannot wait for next year!


Photos 2016 TD TOUR


Special Olympics Pennsylvania has released their SOPA 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan. 

  1. Enhance athlete opportunities to achieve their best
  2. Build positive attitudes towards people with ID
  3. Build capacity through generating more resources and strengthening leadership at all levels of the Movement, including athlete leadership

As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. Below are the strategies for each goal. Each strategy is 

  1. Enhance athlete opportunities to achieve their best
    1. Enhance athlete performance levels by improving sports programming
    2. Increase inclusion though Unified Sports and Young Athletes, particularly in schools, and expand to new areas.
    3. Grow our health program to support athlete participation in sport and society
  2. Build positive attitudes towards people with ID
    1. Improve external awareness through PR, celebrities and government engagement
    2. Connect the Movement so we can harness our power and speak with a collective voice
    3. Maximize external impact of Games and competitions to showcase athletes’ abilities
  3. Build capacity through generating more resources and strengthening leadership at all levels of the Movement, including athlete leadership
    1. Generate more resources
    2. Strengthen leadership
Core Values

Special Olympics Pennsylvania has identified core values that it will use to guide behavior and decisions. These values should be lived in the day-to-day functions during training and competition as well as when making decisions for the organization.

Core values include: Health and Fitness, Respect, Inclusion, Sportsmanship, Passion and Teamwork.


An overview of Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan by President & CEO Matt Aaron for local programs.

Read the full SOPA 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan

It was a hot and sunny day as 9 schools converged at Abraham Lincoln for the 2016 Unified Soccer Championship. Universal Audenried Charter, Frankford, Furness, George Washington, High School of the Future, Martin Luther King, Sayre, and Thomas Edison joined host Abraham Lincoln for the culminating event of the year. Clara Barton Elementary, Universal Daroff Elementary, Solis-Cohen Elementary School, and Tilden Middle School also made the journey to Lincoln to cheer on the high school students.

The Unified Soccer Championship kicked off with Matt Cord, Philadelphia 76ers and 93.3 WMMR, leading Opening Ceremonies. Abraham Lincoln’s Junior ROTC presented the colors as a group from the Lincoln Choir sang the National Anthem. President and CEO of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, Matthew Aaron and Director of Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Britt Kleine, gave brief remarks and wished the athletes luck. Bettyann Creighton, Directorof Health, Safety and Physical Education, gave remarks as well as thanked the teachers turned coaches for their efforts throughout the year and wished their teams the best.

We would like to thank the School District of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools for your amazing partnership and bringing inclusion and opportunity into our Philadelphia schools. We would like to recognize our sponsors who made this event a success: Drexel University’s Eat Right, Philadelphia Union, phl17, Sambulance Safety Squad, and Shop Rite. We also could not do it without our volunteers who took time out of their day to support a growing movement. Thank you to the Finish Line, Knights of Columbus, Sons of Ben for helping us #LiveUnified.

First Rounds:

Field 1
Field 2
field 3
field 4
field 5
field 6
Round 1
AL 1 (2) v SOF 1 (0) SOF 2 (0) v MLK 1 (2) TE 2 (1) v AUD 2 (1) FURN 1 (3) v FRNK 2 (0) SAY 2 (0) v MLK 2 (0) GW 1 (1) v SAY 1 (0)
Round 2
SOF 1 (1) v  AUD 1 (4) MLK 1 (5) v TE 1 (1) AUD 2 (0) v FURN 2 (1) FRNK 2 (1) v GW 2 (3) MLK 2 (1) v FRNK 1 (1) SAY 1 (2) v AL 2 (0)
Round 3
AUD 1 (1) v AL 1 (6) TE 1 (3) v SOF 2 (0) FURN 2 (1) v TE 2 (0) GW 2 (2) v FURN 1 (1) FRNK 1 (1) v SAY 2 (1) AL 2 (0) v    GW 1 (1)


Medal Rounds:

Bronze Medals:

Audenried 2 v Furness 1, Audenreid 1 v Thomas Edison 1, Martin Luther King 2 v Sayer 1

Gold Medal Rounds:

Furness 2 v George Washington 2, Abraham Lincoln 1 v Martin Luther King 1, Frankford 1 v George Washington 1

Final Results:

  1. Abraham Lincoln 1
  2. Martin Luther King 1
  3. Thomas Edison 1
  4. Audenreid 1
  5. School of the Future 1
  6. School of the Future 2
  1. George Washington 2
  2. Furness 2
  3. Furness 1
  4. Audenreid 2
  5. Thomas Edison 2
  6. Frankford 2
  1. George Washington 1
  2. Frankford 1
  3. Sayer 1
  4. Martin Luther King 2
  5. Sayer 2
  6. Abraham Lincoln 2




June 9, 2016:  Kristen Hatfield for PHL17: SOPA Philly celebrates the Fourth Annual Unified Soccer Championship