Our special athlete

Shaleena, wearing her medals, celebrates with Matheny staff members. Clockwise, from left, recreation therapist Stephanie Reale, nurse Pearl Chiang, director of recreation therapy Sean Bielefeldt and social worker Kelly Haldaman.

Congratulations to Matheny adult resident Shaleena Tomassini, who won gold medals in the 400-meter and 200-meter wheelchair races at the USA Special Olympic Games held in Princeton, NJ! Tomassini, the first Matheny athlete to qualify for the national games, also won a silver medal in the shot put and 4th place in the 100-meter race.

“It really hit me during the opening ceremony that I had made the team,” she told her fellow residents and staff members at Matheny. “I started to cry. I knew that as long as I tried my hardest, that’s all that mattered. Now I want to go to the World Games.” The next Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in July 2015 in Los Angeles.

Participation in Special Olympics is an important part of Matheny’s recreation therapy program, which provides a range of recreation choices to improve physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being. Students, patients and community residents are encouraged to partake in several adaptive sports teams throughout the year, including track and field, adaptive karate and power wheelchair soccer.

Team New Jersey

Shaleena Tomassini at a recent Somerset County Special Olympics competition.

Matheny adult resident Shaleena Tomassini has been selected to represent Team New Jersey at the 2014 National Special Olympics. Shaleena, who will be participating in track & field, is the first athlete from Matheny to participate in the national games, which will be held in several locations in New Jersey in June 2014. Team members will be introduced at the Rutgers-Temple football game on November 2 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway. Congratulations, Shaleena!

Matheny patients and students participate in Special Olympics as part of Matheny’s recreation therapy program, which provides them with a variety of recreational opportunities and resources to improve their physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being.