On June 8-10, United Technologies returned as Presenting Sponsor of the 2018 Special Olympics of Connecticut (SOCT) Summer Games at Southern Connecticut State University in Hamden. 2018 marks SOCT’s 50th anniversary, 41 of which have been sponsored by United Technologies.
In her opening remarks, Tizziana Weber, SOCT Board Member and Sr. Director of Communications at Pratt & Whitney, applauded her UTC colleagues for their commitment to volunteerism. “Since 1977, UTC has donated $3.8 million in event sponsorship and tens of thousands of UTC colleagues, retirees and their friends and loved ones have volunteered their time – and a little bit of themselves – to this dynamic and deserving cause.”
Over the course of the weekend, more than 275 volunteers (comprising employees and their own “recruits”) represented UTC by coaching, officiating and supporting the Games in events such as the running long jump, shot put, high jump, indoor race walking, tennis, cycling, and pentathlon. One hundred student volunteers participated from East Hampton High School (EHHS). Coordinated by Dave Erasmus of Pratt & Whitney, UTC’s relationship with EHHS has lasted more than ten years.
Bob Gallipeau, a 40-year employee veteran and planning committee member, praised the EHHS students for their commitment to SOCT, their encouraging rapport with the athletes and their ability to lead by example. “Plainly put, they stand apart from their peers. They understand our credo – that the event is all about the athletes. Their kindness is so impressive.”
In just two days, 2,500 athletes competed in the Olympic Games and participated in team picnics; medal celebrations; coordination and critical thinking activities; and attended the HEALTHY ATHLETES installation at Olympic Town – an area devoted solely to health screening and education.
While the Games themselves are the most visible, they are only part of SOCT’s overarching commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles. At HEALTHY ATHLETES, health care professionals conducted hearing screenings; shared information on nutrition and physical fitness; and even performed vision exams and provided glasses on the spot.
Between the family and friends tent area, the games and activities in Olympic Town, healthcare initiatives and the events, the Summer Games illustrated the full scope of what SOCT does to create and sustain a support system for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.