Posted by: sonewjersey | June 21, 2011

2011 Summer Games Family Program

SONJ Celebrates Families at 2011 Summer Games,
launching a Statewide Family Resource Program
by Susan Colacello, SONJ Family Resource Manager 

Anyone involved in Special Olympics knows that the greatest resource and driving force behind the movement is the family members and guardians of our athletes.  Recognizing the important role our families play, SONJ has initiated a statewide family support program, launched with our first Family Tent and Reception at the 2011 Summer Games!

SONJ Family Resource Manager Susan Colacello (r.) and Janis Kelly (l.) at the Family Tent at Summer Games

The inaugural 2011 Family Reception established a new SONJ tradition to provide a platform for recognizing the vital contributions families make to the success of our athletes and program.  To set the spirit of the event this year and into the future, SONJ honored pioneer and longtime coach Betty Semenecz as the ideal exemplar of the profound difference a family member can make.

In his remarks, SONJ President Marc Edenzon said, “Today is a first! Each year we will bring more families together to celebrate your efforts and we will remember Betty for her commitment to making it possible for all people inNew Jerseyto experience the benefits of sports.”

“Families of Special Olympics Athletes play a critically important role in their child’s acceptance and inclusion in school and the community,” says Edenzon.  “As parents, we are challenged by how we can help our child succeed in the classroom and in social situations.  Creating opportunities for sport and for family and community involvement increases exponentially the possibilities for our child’s social and academic success, but as importantly, for giving them the self-confidence and optimism that come from experiencing personal achievement.”

The SONJ Family Program is focused on providing educational and networking opportunities for family members throughout the state to gain knowledge that may enhance the role they play in their athlete’s development and success in sports, and to provide opportunities for families to share experiences, socialize and support one another.  We welcome your suggestions on workshops, activities, family conferences and informal get-togethers that will help to advance the quality and scope of the program offered to both new and existing athletes.

Join us in preparing for 2014!
SONJ Families will welcome families from throughout the country in celebration of their athlete’s achievements on the national stage of sport, defining the purpose for their acceptance on the field of play, back home in their community.

I am very excited to join SONJ as Family Resource Manager, especially as the parent of an athlete, and I welcome your input in building this program.  Please contact me at


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