December 20, 2016
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University has been named Organization of the Year by Special Olympics Vermont. The university was recognized at an annual awards luncheon held on Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Killington Resort.
“Norwich University has been an important partner of Special Olympics Vermont for many years, hosting two annual sports events and providing volunteer support at numerous other events including the well-known Penguin Plunge,” said Lisa DeNatale, President and CEO of Special Olympics Vermont. “The support that faculty, staff and students at Norwich University provide advances our mission by enhancing the lives of Special Olympics athletes all across the state.”
Norwich University has been partnering with Special Olympics Vermont since the university began facilitating a soccer event at nearby U-32 Middle and High School in 1986, until the event moved to Norwich in 1989, where it has continued. Norwich has hosted Special Olympics Vermont’s Annual Basketball Tournament for 15 years, and the Young Athletes Program over the past 10 years. This year, Norwich’s partnership with the athletes grew to include hosting the Unified Schools Soccer Tournament and the inaugural Fall Games. Between those events and the annual Penguin Plunge, approximately 100-200 Norwich students work with Special Olympics Vermont athletes and programs annually.
New this year, Norwich University’s Center for Civic Engagement oversees a student-run organization dedicated to partnering with Special Olympics Vermont called Unify, which meets weekly with local athletes and allies to train and build skills around various sports and general physical fitness and wellness.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the administrators, volunteers, and athletes at the Vermont Special Olympics,” Norwich Professor of Physical Education Thomas Roberge said. “Our partnership with the Vermont Special Olympics has been tremendous for our campus, students, and student-athletes and has benefitted each in many ways.”
Special Olympics Vermont recognizes outstanding athletes, volunteers, and partners at its annual awards banquet. An Organization of the Year has been recognized by Special Olympics Vermont since 2004. Past recipients include Waitsfield Telecom, Dealer.com, and various Rotary clubs and civic groups around the state.
Special Olympics Vermont is part of a global movement that works year round to foster acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities by using the power of sport to showcase their gifts and abilities. In 2016, 1,126 athletes and Unified partners competed with Special Olympics Vermont in 12 Olympic-type sports. Training and competition opportunities are available in all 14 counties and 64 Unified Champion Schools in Vermont.