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Community comes together for Special Olympics

Author A.J. Martelli
Date January 28, 2016

All transportation, meals and lodging are provided free of charge to the athletes. Hotels in the area pitching in include the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Poughkeepsie, Hampton Inn, Courtyard Marriot, Residence Inn and Hyatt House. The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel is providing dinners. Eder said the Special Olympics paid for each service, yet received discounts from each hotel.

Three weeks prior to the event, Eder was unable to quantify how much sponsorship money was raised and how much money it took to bring the games to the area.

The Poughkeepsie Journal, the exclusive media sponsor, is donating a percentage of its advertising revenue to the games.

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. is supporting the games because “it’s important to our local communities,” said John Maserjian, the company’s director of media relations. Central Hudson is one of three “gold” level sponsors, along with the Turk Hospitality Group and Arnoff Moving & Storage. Westchester Medical Center Health Network is the lone “platinum” level sponsor.

“Central Hudson has a long standing tradition of supporting our neighbors and the communities we serve,” Maserjian said, “and sponsoring the Special Olympics is an opportunity for us to further this commitment while supporting these amazing athletes from across the state.”

To go along with sponsors, the games need a certain amount of volunteers. Typically, the Special Olympics aims to obtain between 1,000 and 1,500 volunteers for the winter games. The Games Organizing Committee uses business cards, radio spots and e-mail blasts to recruit volunteers. Afterward, a survey is sent to the volunteers and an assessment is made on which practice worked best.

“We have one model we work with all over the state for every community,” Eder said. “We’ll ask how they heard about us and at the end we run a report. The committee takes our model, dissects it and says ‘This worked best for our community.”

Eder is anticipating positive feedback this year’s volunteers will give when the games conclude. She’s also hoping for the same type of support next year, with the games scheduled to be held in the mid-Hudson Valley, as well.

“The testimonials are golden to us,” Eder said. “We just want to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward.”

Kathy Smith, a volunteer from LaGrange, was asked to take the lead in organizing the Special Olympics’ volunteers last February by Mary Kay Vrba, the president and CEO of Dutchess Tourism.

She gladly accepted the request.

“The reason I volunteer is to give back to my community,” Smith added. “I’d love to see this community grow and strengthen, hoping to make it the best it can be. It’s been a great outpouring of support from the community.”

To Smith, the Special Olympics offers a scenario in which everyone emerges better.

“Every athlete is going to be a winner,” she said, “but every volunteer who is going to participate is going to be a winner. It’s one of the most rewarding events one can participate in.”

A.J. Martelli: amartelli@poughkeepsiejournal.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports

Special Olympics New York Winter Games sponsors

(Level of sponsorship in parentheses)


Westchester Medical Center Health Network (PLATINUM)

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. (GOLD)

Turk Hospitality Group (GOLD)

Arnoff Moving & Storage (GOLD)

Poughkeepsie Galleria (SILVER)

Stenger, Roberts, Davis & Diamond (SILVER)

The ARC of Dutchess (SILVER)

Access: Supports for Living (SILVER)

Key Bank (SILVER)

Salisbury Bank (SILVER)

Abilities First, Inc. (BRONZE)

Anderson Center for Autism (BRONZE)

Marshall & Sterling Insurance (BRONZE)

Adams Fairacre Farms (BRONZE)

Greystone Programs, Inc. (BRONZE)


Poughkeepsie Journal (EXCLUSIVE MEDIA SPONSOR)

iHeart Radio (MEDIA)

Pamal Broadcasting (MEDIA)

Hudson Valley News Network (MEDIA)



Dial America

Knights of Columbus

Dunkin’ Donuts


TD Bank






Chobani Yogurt


Hunton & Williams


Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce

Dutchess County Tourism Bureau

Dutchess County Executive’s Office