The 35th Annual Windham Invitational Special Olympics Swim Meet was held on March 8 at Windham High School. Approximately 350 volunteers assisted the more than 200 athletes with intellectual disabilities on 12 teams from Connecticut and Massachusetts. In addition to the swimming competition, the meet offered sports clinics, aerobics, and arts and crafts activities.
In addition to dozens of student volunteers from Eastern, Chemistry Professor Charles Wynn celebrated his 20th straight year as meet director. Connecticut Special Olympics President Beau Doherty called Wynn a "legend" in New England Special Olympics circles for his two decades of leadership and dedication to the local meet and the young adults and children that it serves.
Eastern student volunteers worked one-to-one with the Special Olympians, getting them to their registered events, cheering them on, and helping them with a range of activities when they were not swimming. Members of the rugby team helped set up the facility on Friday night, served as volunteers during the day, and took down the event staging after the games were over on Saturday.
Tom Burns, head coach of the Enfield Stars swim team, which competed in the Windham Special Olympics Invitational Swim Meet, singled out Ruth Ronalter for special recognition. "She was teamed with one of our most physically challenged athletes, who is non-verbal and has difficulty walking," said Burns. "Ruth spent the whole day with Bobby, having fun in the gym, doing arts and crafts and having lunch together. Ruth was there to cheer on Bobby during his events, and also when he received his award medals. Ruth was a great help to us, and certainly made it a rewarding day for Bobby! Thanks again to Ruth and the many other ECSU volunteers for giving your time and sharing the day with us."