Special Olympic Athletes Bring Home the Gold!

LIFEPlan Members Attend the 2022 USA Games

LIFEPlan members Gina Klepadlo, Paul Amoroso, and Sean Goldrick are gold medal winners! These local Olympians returned home from the 2022 Special Olympics in Orlando, FL as Bocce Ball champions.  Alexei Studenka was also invited to the USA games and participated in the 1500m Races coming in 5th place!

The Syracuse Central Region bocce players started their journey in Rome, NY playing with the Copper City Training Club and other local clubs. To their surprise, each received a letter in the mail inviting them to participate in the Special Olympics due to their scores and abilities. According to Gina’s mom Carol,

Having Gina participate was a big decision because the athletes would be traveling to Florida separate from their parents. We put our trust in the wonderful coaches and support staff to send our athletes off with them for 10 days.

Gina, a 31 year old athlete with Down syndrome, expressed her excitement saying she

can’t wait to meet the new coaches, celebrities athletes, and other Olympians from all 50 states.

Gina returned home with a Gold medal in the singles division, Silver in doubles, and her women’s team came in 5th place.

The athletes are inspiring and amazing,” said Carol. The families are so proud and we all bonded.

Sean’s mom, Theresa, shared his love for the game.

Prior to Sean joining the training club we played on the beach as a family. Seeing the camaraderie between the players now is so special. He has so much fun,

she said describing the event. Sean came home with a Gold medal in the singles division, Bronze in both doubles and his team division.  

As Sean’s mom I am just proud that he was able to go and participate. It’s always very encouraging to see how they root for each other. I don’t think we ever imagined that he would be there. Sean went, so it can happen for anyone.

Paul Amoroso started playing bocce with his dad 21 years ago and shortly after was selected to go to the 2003 World Games in Ireland. Paul’s father Jerry said,

Paul has a lot of fun playing. The best part about Bocce is that it requires some skills, but that isn’t as important as the camaraderie shared between Paul and his friends. It’s one of the few sports that anyone can do and still have fun.

Paul was privileged enough to be invited to play in the 2022 Special Olympics and received a Gold medal in doubles with Sean and Bronze 

in singles and with his team.  

Training for athletics is a goal, but the final goal is inclusion and welcoming people with IDD into the community, said Jerry.

The three Olympians also spent two days in at Disney World during their time in Florida. Watch this feature video in a News Channel 2 article here. 

When Alexei Studenka was preparing  for the 1500m Races, his Care Manager Emily Brunelle went above and beyond to support him. Emily helped him get his enhanced ID, complete paperwork, and assist Alexei and his family with everything they needed to prepare for the race.  

Emily’s supervisor said,

We are so thankful for Emily going above and beyond to support Alexei in fulfilling his dreams. This is what it’s all about! Watching these videos brought tears to my eyes.

To watch Alexei, one of two runnings in blue, watch this ESPN video here.