CMU Welcomes Special Olympic Tradition Saturday
By Andrea James
Carnegie Mellon University is partnering with Special Olympics of Pennsylvania to host the Western Pennsylvania Spring Sectional Games for the fourth consecutive year this Saturday, April 27. Between 400 and 500 athletes from across Western Pennsylvania will compete in basketball, swimming, golf and track and field.
“We are truly privileged to have the opportunity to host the Special Olympics and these incredible athletes on our campus,” said CMU Director of Athletics Josh Centor. “Each year, I am inspired by the sportsmanship, camaraderie and competition we see in our pool, on our courts and on our fields. This is a day our community looks forward to every year and it has become a special tradition at Carnegie Mellon.”
Lt. Joseph Meyers of the Carnegie Mellon Police Department is a principal figure in bringing the Special Olympics to campus. An avid fan and fundraiser for the event, Meyers shows the importance of giving back.
“I feel that it’s my social duty, as a man, as a police officer and as a leader within this university community to do everything I can to help those who are less fortunate than me,” Meyers said. “People with intellectual disabilities, and often accompanying physical disabilities, are indeed the less fortunate through no fault of their own. They need our support, our respect, our acceptance and inclusion. I believe I can use my leadership role within the police and CMU communities to help foster that ideology.”
One of the fundraisers Meyers spearheads is the Dunk-A Cop, Douse-A-Dean event at Carnegie Mellon’s Spring Carnival each year. Over the last two years, the event raised more than $20,000. College of Engineering Dean Jonathan Cagan was the winner this year, raising more than $2,300.
"Each year, I am inspired by the sportsmanship, camaraderie and competition we see in our pool, on our courts and on our fields." — Josh Centor
Tartan student-athletes organize the event months in advance and make sure everything runs smoothly on the day of the competition.
“We plan for months in smaller groups and then as game day gets closer, the committees grow due to the overwhelming amount of interest from our student-athlete population,” said men’s basketball senior Seth Henry, who is this year’s competition director. “The amount of fun and friendly competition that spurs from this event inspires me to put more of my heart in the work. These athletes train hard and compete while bringing fans and their teammates along for the ride.”
Carnegie Mellon will have an Olympic Village on the soccer field next to Gesling Stadium, where athletes and fans can interact, play recreational games and win tickets for prizes, such as apparel donated by the Athletics Department and other local business donations. A DJ will provide entertainment as well.
Meyers said there’s still time for faculty and staff to volunteer for Saturday’s event.
“I absolutely, positively, without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt guarantee that you will not forget this day,” Meyers said.
Opening ceremonies will kick off at 9 a.m. in Gesling Stadium with a parade of athletes. Basketball events will begin at 9:45 a.m. in Wiegand Gym and at Central Catholic High School, track and field and aquatic competition starts at 11 a.m. ,while golf takes place at 2 p.m. at the Bob O’Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park.
“People have told us that we will get more out of this than the athletes themselves,” Henry said. “I am so thankful our school was able to host and become one of the pillars for the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania. I encourage everyone to come out for the jam packed day of sports, fun and pure love of the games.”