"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt"

- Special Olympics Athlete Oath

Get Involved


What we do: Special Olympics PA – Area M offers sports training and competition to children and adults in Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and Northern York Counties. We train in 19 different sports throughout the year. There is no cost to participate in Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

By participating in Special Olympics, athletes:

  • Gain self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Experience friendship on and off the field
  • Are perceived as competent by their families, coaches and event spectators
  • Enjoy being part of the large Special Olympics social network
  • Are more physically active even outside of Special Olympics activities
  • Are more likely to hold jobs in the community

Athlete Eligibility: Participation in Special Olympics training and competition is open to all people with intellectual disabilities, regardless of ability level.

  • Athletes may begin to train with Special Olympics at age 6, and begin competing at age 8. Athletes can continue to train and compete for the rest of their lives.
  • To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, athletes must have an intellectual disability; a cognitive delay, or a development disability, that is, functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills.
  • If you are unsure if you are eligible to be an athlete please take a look at our Statement of Eligibility (PDF) and Who is a Special Olympics Athlete, Young Athlete or Unified Partner? (PDF)

How to get involved:

  • Review our Athlete Enrollment Kit (PDF)for information about participating in Special Olympics PA – Area M
  • Every Athlete needs to have an Application for Athlete Participation (PDF) on file before training and competition can begin. The Application for Athlete Participation is commonly referred to as the Medical.
  • Complete the Application/Medical and then arrange for your family doctor or frequently seen physician to review and complete your athlete’s medical history and complete the Physical Examination section. A signature from your MD, DO or authorized medical professional (CRNP, FNP or PA) is required on the form.
  • Please take the time to fill out the Application/Medical completely. All of the information on the form is required before you can begin training.
  • Completed Applications/Medicals should be sent to the Special Olympics PA – Area M office at PO Box 382, Summerdale, PA 17093. Please make copies for your records. You will need to provide a copy of your Application/Medical to each Head Coach you train with.
  • Applications/Medicals must be completed and resubmitted every three years.
  • Athletes are allowed to train in as many sports as they would like to, however, they must choose one sport per season to compete in.
  • Athletes must agree to participate according to the Special Olympics PA – Area M Code of Conduct (PDF) with each Coach they train with.
  • Contact the Head Coach at the training site you would like to attend. Take a copy of your Application/Medical with you to your first practice. Do your best and have fun!

Questions about becoming an Athlete – contact Shannon Pechart, Area M Sports Director, at areamsports@specialolympicspa.org or 717-732-6756.




Volunteers are the backbone of Special Olympics PA – Area M. We could not exist without the dedication of hundreds of volunteers. The time, energy and enthusiasm of volunteers fuel our movement and make our athletes’ dreams a reality. There is a place for everyone in our organization. All of our volunteers have one thing in common – a sense of personal pride knowing they are changing the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities. As Special Olympic Athlete Dustin Plunkett said “I think everyone should volunteer for Special Olympics because if you give an athlete one minute of your time, they’ll give you their heart.”

Volunteer Classifications: Special Olympics Pennsylvania classifies its volunteers by the level of participation.

  • Class A – Volunteers who are or may be in immediate contact with athletes such as coaches, Unified partners, chaperones, drivers, and overnight hosts, as well as volunteers with administrative (management team members, etc.) and fiscal authority. These volunteers will have a PA State Police Criminal Record Check, PA Child Abuse Clearance and a National Record Check conducted prior to volunteering in this category. Additionally, a fingerprint based federal criminal history is required if the volunteer has lived outside of the Commonwealth of PA in the last 10 years.
  • Class B – Volunteers with casual or limited contact with athletes such as sub-committee members, officials, event management team members, etc.
  • One Day Volunteers - Volunteers that assist at one-day events

How to become a volunteer:

  • Complete the online Volunteer Registration Form if you are interested in becoming a Class A or Class B Volunteer
  • Class A volunteers will have the following background checks done before starting their volunteer experience. These clearances will be a part of your online application process. 
    • PA State Police Criminal History (PA requirement)
    • PA Child Abuse Clearance (PA requirement)
    • National Record Check (Special Olympics International requirement)
    • Additionally, a fingerprint based federal criminal history (FBI) submitted through the PA State Police or its authorized agent is required if the volunteer has lived outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the last 10 years. As a volunteer, you will be required to pay for this check.
  • Class A volunteers must complete the following trainings after their clearances are complete and before starting their volunteer experience.
  • All Class A Volunteer Training can be accessed through the Volunteer Portal.  After signing in you will find all the required trainings under the Class A volunteer training tab
    • General Orientation– This is a general introduction to Special Olympics and any new volunteer or coach should take this training prior to working with athletes.
    • Protective Behaviors– This course provides information on preventing emotional, physical and sexual abuse. 
    • Concussion Training– As a sports organization we recognize the importance of minimizing the risks of concussion or other serious brain injuries
  • For information on becoming a Certified Coach please click here 
  • For information on One Day Volunteer Opportunities please contact Area M Volunteer Coordinator, Louise Bell, areamvolunteer@msn.com 
  • For information on volunteering at Area M Games at Messiah College please visit our Area M Games page

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Become a coach or volunteer to assist a coach in your favorite sport. We offer training in 19 different sports throughout the year, you’re sure to find something that interests you!
  • Volunteer at one of the many competitions hosted by Special Olympics PA – Area M
  • If you are a teacher or work in a job that brings you in contact with individuals with intellectual disabilities you can recruit Special Olympics athletes
  • Publicize Special Olympics where you live and work
  • Provide or assist in getting in-kind donations of products and/or services
  • Join the Management Team or serve on one of Area M’s committees. We are always in need of new ideas and volunteers to continue the growth of our program
  • Help organize fund raising events
  • Enlist your organization or service club to sponsor a Special Olympics PA – Area M event
  • And many more…

Questions about becoming a volunteer – contact Kerry Wevodau, Area M Director, at kwevodau@specialolympicspa.org or 717-732-6756

Special Olympics PA Area-M

55 Miller St.

Summerdale, PA 17093


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