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Clinton resident Paul Bulawa and his teammates in the Special Olympics Central Shoreline program are participating in the softball competition at the 2019 Special Olympics Connecticut Unified Sports Fall Festival this week. The softball competition is taking place at Kennedy Memorial Field in East Haven on Saturday, Sept. 7 and the Connecticut Sportsplex in North Branford on Sept. 7 and Sunday, Sept. 8. (Photo by Denise Ciccarelli )
Athletes John Woods of Madison and Theresa McSparran from Guilford will compete in sailing during the upcoming Special Olympics Unified Sports Fall Festival. Woods and McSparran are both members of the local Special Olympics Central Shoreline program. (Photo by Chad Lyons )
The Special Olympics Central Shoreline softball team is ready to hit the field for the Unified Sports Fall Festival this weekend. (Photo by Denise Ciccarelli )
Branford resident Elyssa Whiteman (right), a coach for the Special Olympics Central Shoreline softball squad, congratulates one of her team’s athletes on a job well done. (Photo by Denise Ciccarelli )
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Special Olympics Connecticut is hosting its annual Unified Sports Fall Festival at several locations in the state, including a few towns on the shoreline, this weekend. Athletes from around the state will be competing at the 2019 Special Olympics Connecticut Unified Sports Fall Festival, which is taking place in East Haven, North Branford, Hamden, Stonington, and Stamford on Saturday, Sept. 7 and Sunday, Sept. 8.
More than 1,000 Unified Sports teammates are expected to participate in this year’s Fall Festival with support from approximately 400 coaches and 500 volunteers. This includes athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and their Unified Sports partners (people without intellectual disabilities) from a few local programs.
The Special Olympics Central Shoreline program features athletes and partners from Branford, North Branford, Guilford, and Madison. There will be 29 people from the program participating in golf, 13 people competing in softball, and 10 people participating in sailing.
Seaside Saybrook is another local program that is going to be represented at the festival. Seaside Saybrook features athletes and partners from Clinton, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Madison, Lyme, Old Lyme, and East Lyme. There will be 22 people from Seaside Saybrook participating in the bocce competition and 17 people competing in sailing.
Team North Haven will be sending 61 athletes and partners to compete at the festival, including 31 in bocce, 17 for softball, and 13 in golf.
Debbie Horne, the director of communications and marketing for Special Olympics Connecticut, is excited that the Fall Festival is just days away. Horne knows that the significance of the event goes well beyond what happens during the competitions.
“We always look forward to our annual Unified Sports Fall Festival, because it brings athletes of all abilities from across the state together to compete in the sports they love with their partner or team. The event also demonstrates to others what these participants can do and inspires communities to become more inclusive and accepting of people with intellectual disabilities off the playing field,” Horne said. “In Unified Sports competitions, athletes with and without intellectual disabilities are on the same team, wear the same uniform—there’s no difference. Every player supports their partner or teammates and gives it their all equally. It’s something really wonderful and uplifting to see.”
The 2019 Unified Sports Fall Festival will include a softball competition that is being held at both Kennedy Memorial Field on 55 Maple St. in East Haven and at the Connecticut Sportsplex on 216 Foxon Rd. in North Branford. On Saturday, Sept. 7, there will be a team and skills competition, followed by an awards ceremony at Kennedy Memorial Field from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Kennedy Memorial Field. The opening ceremonies will be held at the same site at 9:15 a.m. Also on that day, there will be team and skills competition, followed by an awards ceremony at the Connecticut Sportsplex from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Then on Sunday, Sept. 8, a team competition will take place at the Connecticut Sportsplex with an awards ceremony to follow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The sailing competition for the fall festival is taking place at The Wadawanuck Club on 196 Water St. in Stonington on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8. On Sept. 7, there will be a parade of athletes at 10 a.m. with the opening ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. and a harbor start at noon. The following day, racing gets underway at 9 a.m., and the awards ceremony will be held at 1 p.m.
The bocce competition is being held at Scalzi Park at 100 Bridge St. in Stamford on Sept. 7 and 8. On the first day, there will be a traditional singles and doubles bocce tournament at 9 a.m., followed by the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., the skills competition at 10:30 a.m., and the awards ceremony at 1 p.m. On Sept. 8, the Unified Sports doubles competition will take place from 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Awards will be presented between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The festival’s golf competition is taking place at Sleeping Giant Golf Course on 3931 Whitney Ave. in Hamden on Sept. 8. Tee-off for the nine-hole round is at 11 a.m., the opening ceremonies are at 12:30 p.m., the skills competition is at 1:30 p.m., and awards will be presented between 3:30 and 6 p.m.
Additionally, a croquet competition is being held as part of the 2019 Unified Sports Fall Festival at The Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island on Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22. This marks the 10th year that the croquet tournament will take place at The Ocean House.
The second annual Unified Fishing Tournament is happening in September. Athletes and Unified Sports partners from Connecticut will team up to try and catch the biggest fish.
All of these events are free and open to the public. Special Olympics Connecticut invites everyone to come out and cheer on the athletes, while sharing in the joy of the games. For more information, including how to get involved with local programs, contact Special Olympics Connecticut at 203-230-1201 or at email@example.com, or visit soct.org.
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