by Alana J. Mauger
Special Olympics Pennsylvania, Montgomery County (SOPMC) athletes presented Montgomery County Community College with a banner on Aug. 7 to celebrate more than 20 years of partnership.
The College hosts SOPMC soccer and cross-country teams at its Central Campus in Blue Bell, and many of its students, staff and alumni are SOPMC volunteers. In 2008, when the college reintroduced its intercollegiate athletics program, the Mustangs immediately got involved to support Special Olympics, which provides year-round training and competition to individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“Community engagement and community service are vital components of our athletics program. We want our student athletes to realize the importance of serving others,” said Bruce Bach, MCCC Director of Athletics.
Last year, the College’s athletes completed over 1,800 hours of community service, 181 of which were spent volunteering with SOPMC. The Mustangs assist with the organization’s annual volleyball and basketball tournaments—events that Bach says his athletes “look forward to every season.”
During the banner presentation on Aug. 7, Special Olympics athlete Samantha Weitz, Lansdale, thanked the College for its support.
“The continuous support you give me and my fellow athletes empowers us on and off the playing field. Thanks to you, Special Olympics can offer opportunities like this to thousands of athletes…just like me who have gifts, talents and skills to share with our community,” said Weitz, who is a Special Olympics Global Messenger, meaning she is trained to be a spokesperson for the organization.
Special Olympics athletes, along with Scott Otterbein, Special Olympics Montgomery County Manager and Track Coach, and Jill Schoeniger, Soccer Coach, then presented the banner to College representatives Dr. Kathrine Swanson, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and Bruce Bach, Director of Athletics.
According to Otterbein, since taking the volunteer position as County Manager in January, his management team has focused on increasing visibility and raising awareness of Special Olympics, which offers 18 sports in 34 locations throughout Montgomery County.
“We’ve been working to recognize and praise our partner sites such as Montgomery County Community College, which provides us with access to soccer fields and adjoining fields for our long distance running program. The banner is both a symbolic and tangible sign of our appreciation,” he said.
To learn more about Special Olympics Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, visit specialolympicsmontco.org.
Montgomery County Community College’s Mustangs compete in Region 19 of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). To learn more, visit mustangsathletics.com.