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40 Years and Counting, the Torch Continues to Burn: United Technologies Volunteers and Special Olympics

Since providing the first grant in 1977 – which helped establish the first statewide competition – UTC has donated more than $3.8 million to Special Olympics Connecticut and even more globally.
Since providing the first grant in 1977 – which helped establish the first statewide competition – UTC has donated more than $3.8 million to Special Olympics Connecticut and even more globally.
It’s 6:30 in the morning and David Erasmus, a Pratt & Whitney employee, is already painting lines on the softball throwing field, enjoying the calm before 2,500 athletes descend on Southern Connecticut State University to compete in the annual Special Olympics Summer Games. He knows exactly where to line up the throwing vectors, and set up the gear.

David has been overseeing Special Olympics events for more than 30 years. In fact, for more than 40 years UTC employees across all business units have come together to run entire events such as floor hockey (Pratt), the high jump, Alpine skiing and snowboarding (Otis), the running long jump (UTRC), and the standing long jump (UTAS). They volunteer as event leads, coaches, field judges, and athlete escorts.

“I collaborate with my peers across the business units on a UTC Special Olympics Summer Games committee for months to prepare for this event. We partner with local schools to bring student volunteers. Many of us bring our families and friends. I have brought my wife, my kids, and even my friends’ kids over the years. Volunteering for the Special Olympics is as rewarding for me as it is to the thousands of amazing athletes who participate every year.”

Laurie-Jean Hannon, vice president of Sports & Local Programs at Special Olympics Connecticut, adds, “At Special Olympics we are all about inclusion and having so many volunteers get involved helps foster that atmosphere.” She continues, “Over the years, I have worked very closely with all of the UTC folks and honestly, I don’t know what we would do without their leadership and experience.”

Jason Armistead is an Otis employee and committee leader for the Winter Games. He explains, “Even though it may be cold at the Alpine skiing and snowboarding event, it is heart-warming to watch the athletes achieve personal triumphs. I have worked with the athletes for nine years now, and each year many of them remember me. It is great to give back to such a worthwhile cause, and it is made that much greater knowing that the impact of your efforts go beyond the two-day event.”

Since providing the first grant in 1977 – which helped establish the first statewide competition – UTC has donated more than $3.8 million to Special Olympics Connecticut and even more globally. Employees across the world have joined to support Special Olympics through activities such as the Madrid Special Olympics’ Basketball and Soccer Schools supported by Otis Spain; the Yell Run in Japan; and the Special Olympics games in France and Australia.