Students Volunteer at Special Olympics Maryland Winter Games
Eight Mercersburg Academy students and a number of faculty volunteered their time February 24-26 helping to manage ski and snowshoe courses for the Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) Winter Games at nearby Whitetail Ski Resort. Tricia Crocker, director of community engagement, coordinated the event.
Participating students included Andy Armbruster ’21, Maggie Betkowski ’21, Jerry Jaime Gomory ’19, Maggie Quick ’20, Julee Rodgers ’20, Elaigha Vilaysane ’19, Colby Walker ’19, and Maria Weimer ’19.
“The Academy partners with SOMD for a variety of their athletic competitions, and volunteers have been helping at Winter Games for a number of years,” says Crocker. “The students and faculty involved consistently describe their experience as overwhelmingly positive. These events provide great opportunity for engaging with individuals with intellectual disabilities and seeing first hand their talents and hard work.”
Volunteers at Winter Games events often work as course spotters (making sure athletes stay on the course and providing assistance as needed), timers, registration personnel, and more. Volunteers also have the opportunity to participate in the Opening Ceremonies by helping ski the Special Olympic torch down the mountain and at times by helping coordinate awards ceremonies for each event.
Special Olympics serves 4.7 million athletes and includes 1 million volunteers in 169 countries around the world; in order to participate, athletes must be diagnosed with intellectual or developmental issues. Special Olympics Maryland hosts 17 major competitions throughout the year, including the Winter Games—though the Winter Games are technically held in Pennsylvania (at Whitetail, which is seven miles southwest of the Academy campus, near the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line).
“The best part was meeting the athletes and learning about their gifts,” Quick says. “All of the athletes took such delight in whatever competition they participated in, and they worked so hard. It made me happy to see them succeed.”
“Special Olympics was incredibly fun this year,” Gomory adds. “I think that as students, we are really lucky to meet and learn from the amazing athletes and volunteers at the games.”
In June 2018, Mercersburg Academy and Special Olympics Maryland signed a memorandum of understanding to engage the school as an official program partner of Special Olympics Maryland. The collaboration is to enlist both groups to identify mission-focused opportunities that stimulate active engagement on- and off-campus. Read more about this exciting partnership.
Approximately 15 students each academic term are formally involved with the school’s Community Engagement Team as an extracurricular activity. Participating students can be found working with elementary-school children and after-school programs in Pennsylvania and Maryland (including the Boys and Girls Clubs), helping residents at local retirement centers, assisting with trail cleanup and maintenance at Cowans Gap State Park and the Greencastle Environmental Center, and much more.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center. Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236 GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236 717-328-6173