Area26 news & updates
June 2021 | Issue 22
Let me win, but if I cannot win,
Let me be brave in the attempt.
From the Editor...
Face Mask 1
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccination rates are now high enough that SOVA has opened certain sports for Phase 1 of return to in person sports (some areas are in Phase 2). To those of you who can get vaccinated, but haven't yet - please do so, and we will be able to get all the way back in the game.
NEXT MONTH...We have a lot of new Graduates in our midst... Please submit your graduation photos and we will include them in the July edition!!
A letter from the Council...

Special Olympics of Northern Virginia – Area 26 (Area 26) is excited to announce that we will begin to “re-open” our sports programs in the coming weeks. We appreciate all that our athletes have done to stay safe and healthy during the last 12 months and we look forward to returning to play].  Below is helpful information for our athletes, family members and volunteers to review as we get back on the field!

An Overview of the Plan
As most of you know, the Area 26 sports program operates under the auspices of Special Olympics Virginia (SOVA) and the various governing bodies for Special Olympics. Our plans to restart our sports will follow the SOVA guidelines for the return-to-play effort. You can find those plans at link #1 below. Those plans limit the types of sports that we can offer right now (mostly outdoor sports).  Locally, we plan on offering seven sports (golf, bocce, flag football, track & field, softball, open water swimming and cycling). 

What will this look like in the early phases?         
     Practices will be limited to 10 participants (including volunteers)
     Limited activities in practices and competitions to limit person to person contact
     More social distancing and other precautions to limit the COVID-19 related risks.    
In time, we’ll be looking to expand the sports being offered and the types of activities that we can have at practices and competitions. While it may take a little time, we’re working towards getting back to the same types of practices and competitions that we all enjoyed during pre-pandemic time.

One important aspect of the SOVA guidelines that everyone should know is that we cannot prevent non-vaccinated athletes from participating in our program. While we will follow the SOVA policy, the Area 26 Council strongly believes that vaccination is key to getting our programs going in a safe way and further expanding our return-to-play efforts. We continue to encourage our athletes to get vaccinated as soon as they can. Information about getting vaccinated can be found at link #2 below. 

What Our Athletes Will Need to Do
●     Each athlete will have to complete a COVID Waiver Form (at button #3 below).[3] That form provides important information about the risks associated with return-to-play and a discussion of “high risk” participants. Both SOVA and the CDC provide information about what it means to be a “high risk” participant, and we encourage you to follow the guidance of both SOVA and the CDC in this regard (click information button #4)[4]
     If an athlete’s Medical Release (button #5 below) is expired, they’ll also need to provide an updated form. Given how long our programs were paused, we know a lot of athletes fall into this category. To participate in our sports, you need to have this medical on file with the Area 26 office.
     Any athlete wanting to start a new sport must reach out to the sports coordinator before coming to a practice. While we want to include everyone in this reopening process, we do have to control our numbers and we need to know who will be attending practices so we can follow the SOVA protocols we described above.

In Closing…. 
After 14 months of not having Special Olympics, we know that everyone is excited to get back on the field. While we share in that excitement, we also ask for your patience and cooperation as we navigate this uncharted path. We need everyone (athletes, volunteers and families) to follow the rules set forth by SOVA. Our efforts to restart all programs will only advance if we can follow the rules provided for return to play. We (and the team at SOVA) will all be watching closely and will modify our plans as need be; if you see something that we can do to help, please let us know. 
See you at practice!!!

Please email completed athlete forms to:

In preparation for return-to-play, we are including a link below to the Volunteer Class A Certification Process on the Area 26 website. 

Volunteer Class A, and coach certifications must be updated every 3 years. Many certifications have expired, and many are due to expire. All volunteers are also required to have a COVID19 Waiver on file (button #3 above... ).
Please email completed volunteer forms and certifications to:
Virtual Activities Update...
Hi Athletes,

We are transitioning some sports to in person, but many programs will have to wait for the next safety level to resume, so we will still have a great set of online activities for you to participate in. June activities include Yoga, Zumba, a return of the Dance Party and others. Details and schedule can be found on the online resources page on the Website.
YOUniquely Fit is continuing to run their excellent program into the new year. There is room for several more athletes if you are looking for a great way to get in some exercise with some top-notch SO Coaches on days you don't have team practice. You can join at the button, Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday from 6 to 7pm!
Keep up the energy everybody! 
Having Fun...

Some of the Avengers (all vaccinated...) joined professional Football lineman Jake Payne and educator/trainer/professional Bodybuilder Ron Robinson for a Train Like A Pro session to stay in shape and help them prepare for practices when they officially begin in June or July and enjoy the May sun...
Doing something fun? Send us your pictures, and see yourself here...
Avengers Assemble for the Area 23 Summer Series Flag Football Event
The very first official activity for Area Return to Sport happened on May 23rd when the Avengers joined athletes from several teams from around the State at Colgan High School in Manassas for a Football Skills event very like the NFL Combine.

Our intrepid crew participated in Passing, Receiving, Defense and Speed challenges and dominated the competition. The day was hot, but EVERYONE on the fully vaccinated squad (players, coaches and volunteers) had a great time being out in the sun with their teammates.

When the Avengers begin official practices in June or July they will be in Phase 1, the team will be divided into 2 groups w/each having no more than 10 (athletes, coaches, or volunteers)

Here are some shots of the crew and action from the event...
Back row (standing left to right): Head Coach Matt Elliston, Sean Minnick, Tom Merz, Mike England, Stephen James, Coach Barry Tilton, Jay Choi, Austin Ward, Matt Sapienza, Coach Jim Warson

Front row (kneeling left to right): Max Hershberger, Hoang Phan, Tony Linthicum, Sam Selnick, Chris Robinson, and Kyler Reese
NYSMITH Raises Funds for Area 26 Teams and Sports

The Nysmith Make-the-Point fundraiser wrapped up in Early May and Area Chair Elaine Tilton met with Katherine Michetti of the Nysmith School PTO Community Service Committee to receive the proceeds. This long-running annual giving campaign has continued to provide needed support to our programs and we are all grateful!
We would also like to thank our group of Area 26 Spoke-letes for narrating their video. Normally the fundraiser runs for 1 week, but with the school closed to only students and teachers the committee asked Global Messenger Kyler Reese to provide a video which was played for two weeks during PE classes. The video received great feedback and was uploaded to the Nysmith Youtube channel. 

Thank you Kyler, Olivia Baker, Kevin Bennett, Jay Choi, and Max Hershberger for helping raise awareness and funds for our Area 26!
Fit-5 Fitness Pals Monthly Update...
The Fit5-Five...Chris, Tom, Dave, Max and Kyler are getting ready to play again!
Tom sprinting the 40...
Chris thanks the Law Enforcement Team while receiving his medal
Kyler turning the corner in the receiver dash
Max sprinting to the Defense target
David working the OTHER Football...
Athletes Corner
  • by Max Hershberger
Hello Area 26 ….
Hello Area 26!!!!!

Hope you're doing well and staying active by working out daily!! I have been appointed as the new Area 26 Representative member and I am so excited for it!!

I am also a Fit 5 member, and a Track athlete. I recently did for virtual 5k race for the Arc of Northern Virginia and my time for that was 18:39. In 2016 I ran the Full Los Angeles Marathon and 2019 I ran the Marine Corp Marathon.

During the week I been doing the Youniquely Fit on zoom. They do different types of workouts to stay in shape. Some of my vaccinated friends have started getting a small group together to practice flag football over the weekend to work on some exercise drills.

Besides Special Olympics I have been going on some hikes over the weekend and my favorite one so far is the Chinn Ridge that one is near the battlefield.

In Special Olympics sports I also participate in fall running, Flag football, Basketball, Swimming and Track. Hopefully soon we will get back with sporting games. keep on staying in shape and focusing on getting better every day.
I am fully vaccinated and get your shot if you can but didn't. Keep on continuing wearing your mask and staying 6 feet apart.

Thank You!!

Max Hershberger
Return of the Torch Run
Join thousands of members of Law Enforcement and the community as we run, walk, bike, and more 22,000 miles across the state in celebration of the Special Olympics Virginia Summer Series.
Our athletes knew social isolation long before COVID-19, but your support of the Torch Run can get them back in the game. Back to the softball and football fields, the bocce courts, the swimming pools, and the tracks.
The Area 26 Team page is up! Please register to participate or to donate at the link button. Join us on June 7th for the opening ceremony - let's keep the "Flame of Hope" burning brighter than ever.
IMPORTANT: Please always remember when registering or donating to indicate your affiliation with Area 26 so that we get 1/2 of the proceeds to fund the local program!!
Cost will be $25 to Register - Race Perks include the 35th anniversary Law Enforcement Torch Run T-shirt, access to SOVA Run Club, Printable Bib, and a Limited Edition Medal*.
*Runners who raise $75 will receive the Virtual Torch Run medal
Rugby ...
More fun and new Sports...Hurry if you wish and sign up for the Unified Rugby Clinic, happening next Saturday from 1-4pm at
If you have any questions, please contact Veronica Jennings at
More changes are happening as we get back to the real world. Long time Powerlifting Coordinator and Coach Mike Troiano (in the mint-green shirt on the left) and his family are moving, and he is stepping down. Coach Tim Figureoa will be taking on the Coordinator roll and Seth Abrams will now be the Head Coach. Also, Bill Whiteside will be the new uniforms point of contact for the super-fit lifting crew. Please join us in wishing Mike all the best in his new home in Annapolis. (Just so you know, He says he will be close enough that he will still pop in from time to time and make sure the team isn't letting up...)
Tim Figueroa
Seth Abrams
Stay Healthy, Stay Active!!
We love to have your pictures - so keep busy and...
Job Opportunities for our athletes...
The Company Didlake is still looking for workers from our community. Here is some information from the company and about them and their service:
All people have the right to work and contribute to their community in meaningful ways. Our mission is to create opportunities that enrich the lives of people with disabilities. It drives everything we do.
Our programs and services help people find competitive employment and get engaged with their community. We collaborate with community members and local businesses to further our mission and successfully effect change.

We believe in empowering individuals to realize their full potential so they may lead more satisfying and meaningful lives that include employment and relationships. Our mission, creating opportunities that enrich the lives of people with disabilities, opens the door to innovative thinking and creative approaches to challenges. Opportunity creates choice and choice empowers people.

At Didlake, we create opportunities to empower people every day.

You can learn more about the company at this button.
If you are interested in applying for the open jobs you can contact Ace Barbari, Field Recruiter at phone number 703-361-4195 x 1404 (o) or
Area 26 is still in need of a new volunteers for the position of Adult Bowling Coordinator.

The Adult Bowling Coordinator manages our very popular bowling program, arranging the facilities and tournaments for the league. We want to keep this going as soon as the COVID circumstances allow!

If interested in the position, please contact Area Council Chair Elaine Tilton at chairman@novasova.orgg
Revealing the Champion in all of us...
Please continue to share information about this newsletter and website with those you know in the community so that we can better share the wonder of our special athletes and volunteers. To sign up to receive the newsletter, go to our webform Newsletter Subscription
Area 26 Points of Contact
Area 26 Council

Elaine Tilton

Chuck Adkins-Blanch
Patrick DeLapp
Bruce Fingerhut
Max Hershberger
Jay Hoffmeier
Veronica Jennings
Nancy Julia
Abby Lacy
Katherine Martin
Jeff McGiboney
Nancy Robbins
Bernie Woolfley
Area 26 Special Olympics |
Season Directors
Elaine Tilton, Fall/Winter

Nancy Julia, Spring/Summer

Barry Tilton

Volunteer Coordinator
Bruce Fingerhut

Athlete Representative
Max Hershberger

Medical and COVID Waivers

Senior Director, Potomac Region
Veronica Jennings
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