A Message from the President & CEO: 2021 Quarter 4

Dear Supporter,

As 2021 closes it offers a time for reflection. I am so proud of our staff and leadership volunteers in the community and schools who worked so closely together this year with a singular purpose of getting our athletes back in action in the safest environment possible. I am proud of our coaches for coaching our athletes through these challenging times. I am proud of our family members and others who made sure our athletes got to practices, and competitions. And I am proud of our athletes who continued to demonstrate courage and share joy as they trained and competed in the sports they loved. I am also proud of all of our athlete leaders who advocated on behalf of their fellow athletes and helped us navigate our way through the many challenges presented by the pandemic.

The table below tells a positive story of a fall season where athletes returned to in-person action training locally and competing both locally and at our state championship competitions. Individual, outdoor sports compared most favorably to pre-covid participation in 2019. We required athletes, coaches and volunteers to be vaccinated in Flag Football, Powerlifting, Soccer, and Bowling in order to ensure the safest/healthiest environment possible which ultimately influenced lower participation when compared to 2019. 

Additionally on November 9th, we concluded our Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) Tennis season with the state tournament hosted by the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park. This table also tells a positive story as our high schools returned to action this fall. Like other high school sports, we benefitted from tennis being an outdoor sport which led to participation levels comparable to 2019 when our tennis teams were last able to train and compete.

The theme of the 2022 Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge in February is Plunge Your Way. While we are eager to re-engage in a safe in-person environment at Sandy Point State Park, we are also encouraging people to plunge their way at a time and location that is most comfortable and convenient for them. Athletes like Monique Matthews, Elaina Camacho, Annu Singleton, Adam Hays, and Thomas Smith among others are leading our recruitment efforts by inspiring plungers at Corporate Plunge team kick off meetings and law enforcement department command staff meetings.

Speaking of the Plunge, longtime presenting partner Aerotek continues their generous support for the event. They will have the corps of volunteers on site managing Plunge registration and Wawa is eager to return to serve up coffee and hot chocolate… Be sure to look for their Gold Medal Hot Chocolate in January as they support SOMD athletes headed to the 2022 USA Games in Orlando, Florida next June. We are so grateful for our longtime media Partners WBAL TV11, 98Rock, 1090AM/101.5 who help generate awareness about our mission and share the plunge experience like no other. The 45 Baltimore Area Chick-fil-A Restaurants are supporting the athletes of Special Olympics Maryland for another Plunge season. We also welcomed a new media partner WRC 4, Telemundo 44 and NBC Sports Washington who will be supporting our efforts in Montgomery and Prince George’s County. We are looking forward to over 10,000 Marylanders plunging their way in 2022 to support our athletes, Unified Sports® teammates, community coaches, interscholastic coaches, young athlete coaches, and volunteers all of whom are central to achieving our mission.

As we embark on a new year, our athletes will continue to be messengers of hope as they seek opportunities to expand our reach and transform Maryland. We know that meaningful and interactive inclusive experiences with our athletes is transformational. As we continue be avid with Covid protocols and safety precautions our aim is to create more of these experiences by reaching more athletes, family members, volunteers, unified teammates and the community at-large.

If you ever need an inspirational speaker, we have plenty of athletes who can help you motivate your team. Our athletes demonstrate daily, their ability to motivate people to give more of themselves than they ever thought they might. Our athletes have the power to transform in a way that builds interactive inclusive communities of dignity and respect. Through sport, our athletes are creating a world where opportunity is not limited by disability. As we enter 2022 the call to action continues to be one of support… Support our athletes through a personal donation, as a participant at a special event, as a corporate partner, as a volunteer, or as an advocate. 

Stay in touch with us as we seek to engage more people in these interactive experiences. And when you join us, bring a long a friend or family member. 

I wish you the very best in 2022…

Experience Inclusion, Jim Schmutz