Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jessie's Blog: The Management Team

Hi Everybody!

As you may recall, I've written blogs about our Athletes, Coaches, and family members.  I have not, however, written about our Lebanon County Special Olympics Management Team, who are in charge of the administrative details of our program.

Currently, our amazing Management Team is headed by Joan Sechrist, our Area Manager, who is also our Outreach Coordinator.  James Campion is our Treasurer, Tara Ensminger is Secretary, Michelle Voydik is the Volunteer Coordinator, and Carmen Rozier is the Competition Coordinator.  Kevin Umberger acts as the Training Coordinator and the Equipment Manger, I am the Athlete Liaison, and Deb Tice is the Fundraiser Coordinator.  Janet Umberger is in charge of Athlete Registration, and Jackie Gostomski is the IMS Coordinator and our Public Relations Person at this time. 

As you may have noticed, a few of our Management Team members hold a couple of positions which we need to fill!  We have to fill the Assistant Manger position, as well as the Public Relations position.  We are looking for two engaged, enthusiastic individuals who are passionate about Special Olympics and qualified for these two important positions.  You can contact Joan at (717) 272-1332 (#3) with any questions.  You can find out more about these positions and our Management Team at our meetings held on the first Monday of each month, 7 PM, at St. Paul's Church on South Spruce Street in Annville.

I would like to thank each member of our Lebanon County Special Olympics Management Team, and also state how proud I am to be a part of this great team.  We look forward to welcoming new folks to our Management Team, and I implore you to take a moment to think about all the wonderful things the Management Team does as the backbone of the Lebanon County Special Olympics!


Jessie Salness

Lebanon County Special Olympics Athlete Liaison

Friday, August 8, 2014

Jessie's Blog: Importance of Attending Competition

Dear Athletes:

This is an Open Letter to all Athletes regarding a very important topic that was brought to my attention at our August Lebanon County Special Olympics Management Team meeting.  Our Competition Coordinator, Carmen Rozier, reported that often times Athletes are not showing up to participate in competitions, cancelling at the "last minute" or not even calling to cancel at all!

There are a few reasons why Athletes need to follow through with their commitment to competitions they have signed up for.  Carmen stated that for one, your team may not even be able to compete if you are not present (for example: basketball, volleyball, soccer) if it is a team-centric sport.  Second, there are only so many allotments for each competition.  If you are signed up for competition, but are unable to attend and do not cancel or give adequate notice of cancellation, another Athlete can not even take your allotted space.  Third, Carmen reminded us of the cost associated with a "no show" for competition.  Each Athlete incurs costs to Lebanon County Special Olympics, such as registration fees, transportation, food and drink, lodging and more.

Please remember to take the responsibility of signing up and showing up for competitions seriously.  Look over your calendars carefully, confer with your family and other people in your lives (ie-bosses, volunteer supervisors, etc) BEFORE you sign up for competition.  Also, if for any reason you must cancel, please tell your Coach immediately!  Competing in Lebanon County Special Olympics is a great opportunity that comes with great responsibility.  Your participation is important and makes a difference.  We want to make sure that each eligible Athlete who has put the time and effort into being able to compete will go on to competition!

Thank you for your continued effort and hard work, Athletes!


Jessie Salness

Lebanon County Special Olympics Athlete Liaison (Co-written by Shannon Kirk)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jessie's Blog: Great Fundraisers

T-Shirt Sample
Hi Everyone!

Do you guys remember my April blog about the importance of fundraising?  As you all know, Lebanon County Special Olympics of PA is a free year-round sports program for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Lebanon County Special Olympics alone had over 200 athletes participating in various sports last year!  While it is free to the athletes, there are costs to run the program, of course.  We as athletes, family, and friends, can support Lebanon County Special Olympics by giving donations and taking part in our fundraisers.

The first fundraiser I want to tell you about is the cool new t-shirts that were designed just for Lebanon County Special Olympics supporters of us athletes!  The tees have a silhouette of a super hero and a cartoon image of an athlete in front of the super hero, and it includes a message about supporting our Super Athletes!  I personally love these t-shirts and I'm buying one, for sure!  They are a great way of expressing our family and friends' involvement and support of the athletes.  T-shirt costs are $8 for all children's sizes, and Adults' Small through X-Large are $10 each.  2XL-4XL are $12 each.  These tees will be available for purchase at our August 16th car wash at Fox's Automotive at 29 Cumberland St in Lebanon.  You can also buy shirts directly from Joan who can be reached at (717) 272 -1332 (mailbox #3).  More info about the car wash can be found on the Lebanon County Special Olympics Facebook page and in our Fall Sports 2014 newsletter.

Another fun fundraiser we are currently participating in is the Sheetz FUNdraizer!  You can purchase a booklet of coupons for only $10 and the coupons have at least $20 in value!  I have purchased multiple booklets over the past 7 months, both for myself and as gifts.  I don't know about you, but I often have difficulty finding appropriate gifts for my friends and family.  The coupons have something for everyone, whether you love fries, donuts, soda, or sandwiches!  The Sheetz booklets can be purchased directly from Joan (please see her contact info in previous paragraph.)

We all love Lebanon County Special Olympics of PA and the part it plays in our lives, and one of the best ways to express our appreciation and support is to participate in our fundraisers.  Not only is it a great way of helping to fund the program and show support, but it is also an easy way to obtain fun gifts for family and friends, and all of our fundraisers help spread the word about Lebanon County Special Olympics of PA!

Thanks for your continued support,

Jessie Salness

Lebanon County Special Olympics Athlete Liaison

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jessie's Blog: A successful and meaningful life

Hi Everyone:

 I have been thinking about what it means to have a meaningful and successful life. I have heard many athletes, including myself, say "if only I had a boyfriend/girlfriend, job, car, children (or fill in the blank), I would have a meaningful and successful life."  It's easy to think that when looking at your family, friends, and others to see what they have, and think they have a happy, easy life when their differences may be less obvious to a casual observer.  I have three sisters who are married with children, and it's easy for me to become envious of what they have. It's hard for me to realize that they also have to work for what they have and that it's not handed to them. They also struggle to find their own sense of purpose and success in their lives.

 I have to work harder in some areas than other people have to, and I have a different way of defining meaning and success for myself. Part of what makes my life meaningful is being part of Special Olympics both as an athlete and a volunteer. We athletes have to work harder and find new paths and overcome different obstacles than other people. The athletes of SO are diverse in terms of their challenges and abilities, and we must define our own meanings of success. Special Olympics helps add meaning and success to our lives by allowing us to go beyond what we thought we were capable of doing. Thank you Special Olympics for being part of all of our lives.


 Jessie Salness
> Lebanon County Special Olympics Athlete Representative

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Jessie's Blog: A Great Day for Fishing

On Saturday, June 14th, I had the pleasure of attending the Lebanon County Special Olympics fishing event sponsored by the Lebanon R Field & Stream Sports Club.  The R Field & Stream members stocked their pond for this event, and provided the reels and bait for our use.  The members were also on hand to teach and encourage us Athletes in pursuit of the Great Catch!  Quite a few fish were caught, along with a few trees... Whoops!  I don't think there are tree-fish!!!  Many Athletes had lots of success, whereas I, on the hand, was happy to catch one catfish!  The Sports Club members cleaned and cooked the fish, and helped serve the fish, hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries to the happy, hungry Athletes!

Jerry Wolfe, an R Field & Stream member and LC SOPA supporter, mentioned an idea for a fishing event at the last LC SOPA Annual Dinner/Auction in March.  Working with Jim Deininger, President of R Field & Stream, and Judi Lentz, an R Field & Stream member and active supporter of LC SOPA, they coordinated all of the details for this event.  Not only did R Field & Stream Sports Club sponsor this fishing event, but they also sponsored the LC SOPA's last two Dinner/Auction events!

Thank you Jim, Jerry, and Judi, and R Field & Stream Sports Club for all of your longtime, continued support of Lebanon County Special Olympics.  We Athletes truly appreciate all of your support and hard work, and we really enjoyed the "fruits of our efforts" at this fun fishing event!

Jessie Salness
Lebanon County Special Olympics Athlete Representative

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jessie's Blog: The Importance of Attending Practice

Hi Everyone:

I was recently thinking about how important practice is to our success in Lebanon County Special Olympics' competitions.  Practice is important for at least three reasons right off the top of my head.  There are many reasons to attend practice consistently, as I'm sure you have many of your own, but here are a few of mine I'd like to highlight.

One, practice gives us the time to learn the skills needed in our respective sports.  Learning the skills and repetitious practice better prepares us for improving in our various sports.  For those athletes that compete, these skills will come more naturally as a result of regular practice.

Secondly, it's good for us to show up for practice because it showcases the commitment we've made to improving ourselves. It proves that we are doing this for ourselves, that WE have made a commitment and we are following through with it!  Each individual helps make up the team, and part of being a team is showing up to practice!

Lastly, Special Olympics is based on the principle of equal opportunities.  One way of determining whom among us will go to competition is to base it on attendance on practice, especially since everyone would like the opportunity to compete.  As much as we'd like everyone to participate in competitions, it is not possible as there are only so many designated athlete allotments.

No one person or team competes to the best of their abilities without putting the time and effort into practice.  Let's renew our commitment to attending practice consistently.  Attending practice regularly will increase our skill level and confidence, and will help determine which athletes will participate in competitions.

Now let's see if we can all put this into "practice!"


Jessie Salness
Lebanon County Special Olympics Athlete Representative

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Jessie's Blog: How can you help?

Hi Everyone:

This is Jessie Salness, your Athelete Representative.  As you might know, part of my position is going to the monthly management meetings where we talk about the details that go into running Lebanon County Special Olympics. This month we talked about the budget for the year and how much money is going out and how much money is coming in. The money going out pays for uniforms, sports equipment, coaches' training, registration for sectionals and much more than I could possibly list. We cannot run Lebanon Area Special Olympics without paying the expenses both for day-to-day stuff, and the fun things like the dinner dance. How do we pay for it since we don't get funding from the state, Special Olympics PA, or the federal government?  Unbeknownst to many people, we are funded strictly by donations and fundraisers.

Jim Campion, the Treasurer, explained that we are spending a little more each year than the monies received from donations and fundraisers. This is a problem we can solve two ways. One way is by cutting costs by not having some of the things we enjoy but are extras, like the annual picnic. In order to have fun extras like the picnic, we need to bring in more money than we are spending. The second way is we can increase the amount of money coming in by donations and fundraisers like the upcoming Bunny Run, Sheetz coupon books, and the Car Cruise, for example. Deb Tice said that there are 20 athletes and their families who are consistently participating in fundraisers and are doing a good job. We have a total of 270 athletes, and if each of us helped with both the fundraisers and donations, we would be so much better off. We each can do our part to help with the budget by talking to people we know about Lebanon Area Special Olympics. I have learned a lot being a Special Olympics athlete, and one of the things I learned was that I can achieve more as part of the team than by myself. We are all part of the Lebanon SO team, and we do a lot more together than we ever thought possible. We as athletes can help by letting the people who care about us know how much Lebanon Area Special Olympics means to us and how it impacts our lives. We can tell them that Lebanon SO is funded ONLY by donations and fundraisers, and that costs approximately $160 every year to pay for each athlete, from first practice to the final event. Their support makes it possible for us Lebanon County Special Olympics athletes to participate in various sports, and without everyone's support, there would be no Lebanon County SOPA!

Let's prove that we are up to the challenge, and show others that we are more than athletes, that we are advocates for the Lebanon County Special Olympics!  "Many hands make light work" as they say, and with banding together to participate in fundraisers and assisting in securing and providing donations, we can ensure a bright future for Lebanon County Special Olympics!

 Thank you for support and interest,

Jessie Salness

   Lebanon County Special Olympics Athlete Representative