New Jersey Special Olympics
Another great New Jersey Special Olympics Summer Games at the College of New Jersey. Congratulations to the more than 2,500 volunteers who helped make this event possible for the 2,300 registered athletes, with total crowd estimated at 7,000. Thanks to Joan Nester, Mercer Area District, for organizing and coordinating Scout participation in the NJ Special Olympics. Joan has been planning and preparing for this all year, and she seemed to be everywhere over the weekend. Joan and all our scouts deserve our appreciation.
There were more than 100 proud scouts helping this year. Helping with the tables, helping clean up, wearing the special Daffy Duck, Pineapple, and other costumes, and helping run the games. Mark Carroll, Troop 91, organized and coordinated the scouts wearing costumes.
Troop 5700 set up a camping display with tent, cook stove, dutch oven. Troop 96 built a picnic table and benches using boards and rope lashings. Scouts from Troop 96 operated a rope making demonstration supplying samples for visitors. Troop 33, with members of the Order of the Arrow dance team, ran an OA demonstration featuring their big teepee and their drums. Scouting was very visible at the NJ Special Olympics.
The Friday evening Opening Ceremony was sensational. The ceremony featured the Torch Lighting, the Parade of Athletes (very impressive as all the athletes, their coaches, the Scouts paraded around Lion Stadium), a Concert, and Fireworks. There were speeches, with a special presentation by Governor Christie Whitman. Come see this ceremony next year.
The Joan Nester Hall of Fame
Richard Desmonde is a volunteer. A big, burly 10 year veteran with the Camden Police Force, Rich was flipping hamburgers -- really hot, smokey work, along with other members of the NJ Law Enforcement Officers. Rich, a member of the Camden County Emerald Society, played the pipes during the opening ceremony Friday evening, then played at the American Legion Hall. Rich says helping people makes it all worth while.
Frank Mackey, 30 year veteran with the Wayne Police Force (retired), is another volunteer. Frank has been helping with the Special Olympics for more then 15 years. The Wayne Police Force doesn't sponsor its own team, but they provide funding to help pay expenses of Wayne participants. Frank is especially interested in the Torch Run.
ShopRite had tents at several locations around the event, supplying food, drinks, fruit, snacks, other things for everyone. ShopRite and its employee volunteers deserve recognition for an outstanding, community-based effort. Other corporate sponsors with tents included Exxon, IBM, Blue Cross, Wayne PBA, Allied Office Products. There were so many activities at this event, please let me know if I missed your booth.