The community comes together for YMCA’s Special Olympics Swim meet.
On Saturday, March 19, Montclair’s YMCA hosted athletes from surrounding townships including Livingston, Caldwell and Wayne. As the YMCA hosted the Special Olympics swim meet, young athletes were able to show off their accomplishments. Members of surrounding communities came together to support thriving athletes. This friendly competition allowed family members, friends and spectators an opportunity to see each swimmer’s progression and dedication to the sport.
The triumphant rise of the fourth annual Special Olympic event brought influential members of the community together to achieve monumental results. The support of 72 special Olympians encouraged a unique surge within the community.
Mike Brune, one of the principal coordinators of the annual event, is the force behind sponsorships that aided this event. Brune had personal family members volunteer at the event and was excited about the turnout. “There was a record attendance by family and friends,” said Brune. “This was a safe and fun event we hope to continue to sponsor in the future.” Brune is a former board member of the Montclair YMCA.
The YMCA is a nonprofit organization that strives to unify members of the community together in a positive and open environment. Montclair’s YMCA takes part in giving back to the community by programs such as Toys for Tots, Salvation Army Food Drive and many more.
As a nonprofit, the YMCA prospers from the community’s support. Local business printer and advertising company Studio042 aided this event. As Studio042 stands as a sponsor of the event, President of Studio042, Pilar Kennedy, said, “I am proud to have supported the Essex Special Olympics 2017 swim meet. We have since its inaugural swim meet at the Montclair YMCA three years ago.”
Scott Kennedy, Publisher of Montclair’s own weekly newspaper, The Montclair Dispatch, and a sponsor of this event for the third year in a row, Kennedy said, “The Special Olympics swim meet is really a special day and Montclair is the right place to host such an event. Each of the competitors is a winner in their own right. I am proud The Montclair Dispatch was asked to support where we could and prouder still to cover the event.”. Kennedy was Chairman of the Board of the Montclair YMCA.
As Montclair’s YMCA opened its doors to the Special Olympics swim meet, they welcomed a crowd of joyful and roaring cheers. As swimmers plunged themselves into the pool, the crowds only got louder. The encouraging and inspirational atmosphere gave the swimmers confidence to show off their skills in front of an energetic audience.
Olympians had practiced a swim style modified by their ability. Ranging from freestyle to backstroke, swimmers eagerly completed each lap. After every completed race each athlete was presented with a medal given to them by a member of the Montclair Police Department. Many wore this medal proudly and were extremely excited to have such a prize.
Events and opportunities such as the Special Olympics Swim Meet allow young individuals to channel their energy into a positive outlet and connect individuals with similar situations.
Ellen Coyle, mother of Special Olympic swimmer, agrees that the event is a great social skill builder. Coyle’s son enjoys being part of a program that strengthens her son’s ability. Coyle said, “I think any type of physical exercise is good for everybody. Swimming [also] helps him stay a little calmer.”
Steve Matthews, a major sponsor of this years event and Owner of Matthews & Company a local realtor said “I think the event in general is a wonderful opportunity. The kids and parents have a great time and it gives them a chance to not focus on what a kid can’t do, but what a kid can do,” Matthews is also a former board member of the YMCA, .
Naturally, swimmers became anxious before their chance to swim, but YMCA staff members were there to calm their nerves. This positive and reassuring environment kept the swimmers confident and the event moving smoothly.
Along with YMCA’s effective staff, the Montclair Police Department became a major asset to the event’s fluidity. Montclair’s Mayor, Robert Jackson, agreed. “[The Special Olympics swim meet at the YMCA is] always a fun and uplifting time,” said Mayor Jackson. “I am particularly proud of the Montclair Police Department who play such a critical role in organizing the event and encouraging the athletes. Deputy Mayor Hurlock and I are honored to be there each year.”
After the event, families and friends of the athletes left the YMCA radiating with good cheer. The athletes themselves were exhausted, but still joyful of their accomplishments.
If you would like to support the Essex Special Olympics you can do so on their website: www.sonj.org
For more information or to become a member of Montclair YMCA visit montclairymca.org.