Carnegie Mellon University
April 21, 2017

CMU Embraces Special Olympics

To Host Sectional Spring Games April 29

Tim Spence and Joe Meyers

By Laura Kelly

For the second consecutive year, Carnegie Mellon University will host the Pennsylvania Special Olympics Western Sectional Spring Games on Saturday, April 29. More than 600 special olympians, 8-years-old and over, will come to campus to compete in basketball, track & field, swimming, tennis and golf.

Leading the university-wide effort in partnering with the Pennsylvania Special Olympics to host the games are CMU Police, the Department of Athletics and the CMU ROTC program.

“It has been so inspiring to see our entire university community embrace the Special Olympic Games as a way to demonstrate our core values of respect and inclusion for people of all abilities,” said Provost Farnam Jahanian.

Among those special athletes competing will be Tim Spence, who serves on the planning committee.

“Without Special Olympics, life would be dull. When I give speeches, I say that my life would be like a black and white photo without Special Olympics,” Spence said. “Special Olympics gives me something to look forward to, goals to work toward and confidence that I will succeed.”

Joining Spence on the planning committee are many CMU student-athletes.

“The excitement, competitiveness and hard work you get to see in these athletes is truly an incredible experience,” said Lisa Murphy, a senior psychology major and the all-time leading scorer on the women’s basketball team. “I get the chance to interact with dedicated, fun and courageous athletes. The ‘joy of sport’ is always evident in Special Olympics athletes and seeing their beaming faces at the awards ceremony is really special.”

“I say that my life would be like a black and white photo without Special Olympics.” — Tim Spence

Carnegie Mellon University Police support Special Olympics through various fundraisers during the year, including the Polar Plunge, an annual event in which members of police departments, organizations and groups take a winter dip into the Ohio River.

“I got involved with the Plunge about nine years ago, which is how a lot of cops get involved with the Special Olympics,” said CMU Lt. Joe Meyers. “From there I found myself getting in deeper and deeper with Special Olympics. It’s just something I believe in.”

Bringing the Special Olympics to Carnegie Mellon was something Meyers and other members of the University Police Department have been planning for years. Their efforts paid off last spring.

“The reception from the Carnegie Mellon community in 2016 was amazing. The effort and focus from the committee made the 2016 event a success, and the work they have put in will make 2017 even better,” said Mike Ermer, a western Pennsylvania director for the Special Olympics.

As the games draw near, more and more members of the university community are getting involved. Jahanian and six university deans participated in ‘Dunk-A-Dean’ at this year’s Spring Carnival to raise funds for Special Olympics. Many students, faculty and staff have volunteered to help during the games and some have signed up to be “Fans in the Stands” to cheer on the participants.

“I am particularly proud to have joined forces with CMU Police in the Carnival Dunk Tank again this year to raise money and awareness for this event – it was an honor to get dunked for such a worthy cause!” Jahanian said.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year-round training and competition in 21 Olympic-type sports to nearly 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities.

For more information about how you can help “Reveal the Champion Inside” thousands of Special Olympics athletes, visit

Register online to volunteer for the games or be a “Fan in the Stands.”