An inclusive Schenley Park event for athletes benefits Pa. Special Olympics – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Schenley Oval was full of runners, jumpers, erg rowers and shot putters competing in the sun in Sunday’s UNcathlon.

Fifteen teams of six, each including one Special Olympian, competed in 10 sports events at Schenley Park in Oakland and could gain more points through an 11th event — fundraising.

The UNcathlon was a benefit for Special Olympics Pennsylvania, which seeks “to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities,” according to its website.

The event, held on and around the track at Schenley Park, consisted of pull-ups, shot put, dips, a 40-yard dash, 400-meter run, 800-meter run, 20-yard shuttle run, long jump, 500-meter erg row and a 10th event of “mystery exercises.”

“We are just tapping into the spirit of the Special Olympics and wanted this to be about health, wellness, fitness and inclusiveness,” said a slightly winded Shannon Barry after running the 800-meter event for the LUXE Home & Design team (subbing for a team member who wasn’t there). Mr. Barry, who works for Morgan Stanley, is a cancer survivor and familiar with fundraising.

“I wanted people to get a chance to interact with the Special Olympians and promote team spirit,” he said of the concept for the event.

“This was his vision,” said Jessica Kury, Special Olympics events manager, between cheering on the athletes running by her on the track. “He came to us with the idea to raise funds, and we thought it was a good way to bring in corporations and people not already involved.”

Special Olympian Justin Jones, 21, threw a shot 57 feet — to his delight and that of his LUXE teammates.

Another Special Olympian, Jonathan Tyler, blew away his competition in the 800-meter race, running it in 2 minutes, 45 seconds. Danielle List had her own team, “Dee’z Wheelz,” and participated in three events as well as singing the national anthem to kick off the event.

Fitness was not the only way to rack up points. Teams could add bonus points through fundraising — the 11th event.

“Every dollar donated to a team over $2,500 gives that team one bonus point,” Ms. Kury said.

Mr. Barry said organizers expect to raise $50,000.

“Eventually, we would love to have Pittsburgh versus Philadelphia in a statewide competition and from there go national” with the UNcathlon model, Ms. Kury said.

Among the participants forming teams or donating water, food and equipment were Dollar Bank, Don’s Appliance, Julian Gray Associates, First National Bank, Aerotek, Morgan Stanley, G&G Fitness, Lululemon, Bob’s Discount and Babst Calland.

Taking home this year’s trophy was team BEA Inc. and its Special Olympian, Ben Stout.

Patricia Sheridan:


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