By: Maggie Griffin
Motivation – Dedication –Inspiration is what defines the mission of Tom Dacey. Talking to Tom, defining what The Special Olympics is to him and all the athletes who participate in The Special Olympics Tri-Town is a mission to raise and support the recognition several of the best athletes participate and take pride in the win for the ribbons and metals.
As with the National Special Olympics, the Special Olympics Tri-Town in Wallingford, Meriden and North Haven, CT; continues its community involvement in a sports program for people with intellectual disabilities. It provides year-round training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type summer and winter sports for participants.
Charles F. Dacey, Jr., Tom Dacey's Father, contributed through volunteering his time to help and encourage all athletes while transporting them when Tom participated in the North Haven Special Olympics. “The Special Olympics is very close and dear to my heart. I was a Special Olympian myself. Taking pride in the trophies and ribbons I won doing the softball throw, watching the champions today continue a legacy which keeps the Special Olympics Torch lit,” said Tom Dacey.
David Blakeslee Jr. is a multiple, 280 times metal champion Special Olympian, Showcasing his athletic skills since he was 8 years old. David takes pride when he said; “My parents, entire family and friends have been my support ever since I became a Special Olympian Athlete. I have two special good luck charms, my God-daughter Allison Vilardi and my little princess niece Madison Blakeslee. My sister Heather Blakeslee – Fiore is the best coach in softball and encourages a foundation for all athletes, including myself, when the softball game takes place in the Special Olympics Tri-Town”. David continues to showcase his athletic skills along with encouraging his fellow athletes in doing the same. Kenneth Blakeslee, David’s brother, is one of the basket ball coaches for the Special Olympian athletes as well. The families and friends of the Special Olympians Tri-Town are the core asset to the Special Olympic Tri-Town event yearly. Dave Burghhardt, David Blakeslee’s Uncle and close friend of Tom Dacey, is more than proud of his nephew; he is proud of all the athletes and commits to volunteering as well. "I am so happy that Tom choose Tri-Town to be the cause for this years Wallypalooza. I promised Tom that I would get my awesome family involved and help make this the best ever! Tom and I come from big families and it was great to see his family and mine together today to support each other along with old friends and new", said Burghhardt.
Colleen Costello, Administrator Director for The Special Olympics Tri-Town works closely with Coordinator Michael Canty. “I love my responsibility as the Administrator Director for The Special Olympics Tri-Town. Year round the athletes participate in several sports.” Costello emphasized. She continues about the sporting events that take place through every season. “In the winter there is Alpine Skiing and Snow Boarding. During the spring season there is the traditional Basket Ball. Summer events include aquatics, cycling and athletics followed by the fall sports that is bocce for the athletes over the age of 30 and traditional softball. But that’s not all, there is the Holiday sports that include bowling which is both traditional and unified, power lifting and volley ball”.
Allison Vilardi is proud to get the word out when she told me “Every season there is a constant running of sports the Special Olympian Tri-Town athletes take pride in their athletic talents and skills.”
Celebrating the 5th annual Wallypalooza at Jake’s Martini Bar on Central St., in Wallingford, CT, the food from Tata’s Restaurant was the start of the celebration.
Following entertainment was DJ's and karaoke by “Moments to Remember” where many sang and enjoyed their DJ spirit, followed by a special visit by recording artist, song-wrighter and performer ArleneWow! giving her continued support in the Special Olympic Tri-Town spirit.
The 5th annual Wallypalooza became a crowded event. From the food, music, raffle items and more, it was a pleasure to meet many Special Olympian athletes that are the champions of champions as Special Olympians.
Talking to trained swimmer and multi winner Lisa, who is also a Special Olympian Athlete, she emphasized her love of swimming. I took pleasure in listening to Lisa as my oldest, and lovable, big brother was a multi-winner Special Olympian as well in his younger years; who also loves to swim. Lisa’s mom is proud of her daughter’s swimming techniques and skills. The Special Olympics is important to Lisa and her proud Mom as well as thousands of others across the country.Seeing and listening to the pride and support of a parent, sibling, niece, nephew, cousins and friends of a Special Olympian is something I know well because I am also the sister of a Multi-time Special Olympic Winner. Talking to the athletes and their families took me back in time when my big brother won his ribbons and metals as an athlete of The Special Olympics for several years. Remembering his athletic skills to the fullest, winning his metals and ribbons are more than pride, it’s proud for me to say “he is my big brother”, and I am honored to be a part of this special event and be amongst several Special Olympic Winners today. And although my big brother is older now, during the years he participated as one of many skilled athletes in the Special Olympics, he still takes pride and joy for his wins, something I am still proud of him for as well. Today he continues to be the best at anything he does.
It was with honor when Tom Dacey asked me to be a special guest at this event. The Special Olympics is meaningful and important to thousands of people. Talking with Tom Dacey, a Man who is a role model in many ventures, he is also a man of motivation, dedication and inspiration. He continues to pass the spirit he holds dear to his heart of the lit Torch to all Special Olympians that are Champions.
December marks the 30th Anniversary of the Special Olympics Tri-Town, a celebration that is a proud recognized value in the Tri-Town communities. With 160 athletes who currently participate in the sports of the Special Olympics Tri-Town, for more information, schedule of events and questions, write to - Special Olympics Tri-Town; P.O. Box 588; Meriden, CT 06450.
**VentureOut! Publications will be updating this column with the names of the volunteers and sponsors shortly.
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