2018 Special Olympics USA Games coverage. Brought to you by our employee-reporters.

On July 1, almost 40,000 people gathered inside Husky Stadium at the University of Washington to kick off the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. On the six days that followed, more than 4,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from across the U.S. competed in 14 team and individual sports.

We are grateful and honored to have had four of Bank of America’s Support Services coworkers attend the event to serve as our eyes and ears throughout the week, while colleagues Tyler Kennedy and Erin Bailey competed in the Games. With a combined 75 years of work experience at Bank of America, employee-reporters Ann Marie Smith, Steve Ledden, Bill King and PJ Moody delivered a thoughtful, first-hand account of their exciting, fun-filled week in Seattle.

Ann Marie Smith — Newark, Delaware

Ann has worked at Bank of America for 18 years, and is a former Special Olympics bowler and member of the Special Olympics Delaware Athlete Input Council.

Ann Marie was incredibly excited to attend the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. “Being here has been my dream my whole life and now it's coming true,” she said. "On our way to the Opening Ceremonies we stopped by the Fan Zone, which was really cool.”

"At the Opening Ceremonies, I cried tears of joy when I saw my teammate - Erin Bailey - walking with the Delaware delegation. I even ran down to see her and we talked for a bit. I'm very proud of her." Ann Marie saw Erin again when she competed at the women’s tennis singles event later that week. "The best part of the day was cheering for our Delaware teammate, Erin, at women's tennis... I think when I get back to Delaware, I'm going to start playing Wii tennis again."

Ann Marie also got to watch her other Support Services teammate - Tyler Kennedy - compete. "Tyler won a gold medal for men's 100 meter backstroke. He was so surprised and almost in tears when he put the medal on. Seeing his reaction and how happy he was really made me feel proud for him! This is why I love coming to watch the games."

The reporters also met Special Olympics International CEO, Mary Davis, for breakfast. “We talked about the importance of teamwork,” explained Ann Marie. “That's what Bank of America and Special Olympics have in common — we all work together to reach our goals."

Steve Ledden — Newark, Delaware

Steve has worked at Bank of America for 22 years. He was a Special Olympics volunteer and athlete in basketball, softball, baseball and flag football for 23 years. He also represented Delaware in baseball during the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey.

Steve was thrilled to attend as an employee-reporter: "Special Olympics brings families together. Parents know their children are competing in an amazing country-wide event and athletes can leave knowing they did the very best they could." He was especially excited that Ann Marie was his reporting partner: “Ann Marie has the best energy and it rubs off on me.”

One of the coolest moments for Steve was watching Massachusetts play South Carolina in flag football. “It was so cool to see the Zamansky brothers compete,” he said. “They won with an amazing play!"

At their breakfast with Michele Barlow, Alicia Burke and Mary Davis, Steve said he “could feel Mary's passion in her words.” The conversation inspired Steve to write, “I hope one day Special Olympics reaches every country in the world."

Bill King — Belfast, Maine

Bill has worked at Bank of America for 18 years. Bill started competing in Special Olympics basketball as a teenager and has also competed in the 100-meter run the past several years.

Bill and his partner, PJ, picked up the reporting on day five. “I felt like a real news reporter when we picked up our media credentials,” Bill said.

Bill was impressed by the powerlifters and explained his connection to the athletes: “My best friend from Maine does powerlifting, so I enjoyed watching the competitions here at the USA Games.”

The duo also participated in the SourceAmerica Job Fair with Support Services Executive, Mark Feinour. “At the end of the discussion, SourceAmerica gave us American Flags that were made by people with disabilities,” Bill explained. “I thought that was really cool."

PJ Moody — Belfast, Maine

Peter has worked at Bank of America for 17 years. He’s a 27-year veteran athlete and most recently competed in the 100-meter walk.

PJ was excited to see his Support Services teammate compete at the Games. "This morning, we watched the competitions where Bank of America employee Erin Bailey from Delaware played in the doubles match for tennis. Delaware won! "However, he still had some pride for his home state of Maine. “I made a good luck postcard and put my home state on it,” he said. “I'm going to give it to my manager when I get back home.”

Like Bill, PJ enjoyed participating in the SourceAmerica panel. "During the panel, Mark interviewed Bill and me. We talked about how we got prepared for our job interviews ahead of time with nice suits and by building up our confidence. We've been working at Bank of America for over 17 years now. Working at Bank of America has helped me get my license and a car, and I now also live in my own apartment.“

All of us at Bank of America are grateful to Ann Marie, Steve, Bill and PJ for lending their talents to Bank of America, the Special Olympics USA Games and the world.

10/10/2018


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