CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A check presentation turned into a huge celebration as two local athletes and their coach received an amazing surprise Monday.
13-year-old Cayleigh Moorhead, of Glenville, and 21-year-old Stephanie Hamelink, of Scotia, thought they were helping to present a donation to Special Olympics New York.
More than $43,000 was raised during a campaign by SEFCU President and CEO Michael Castellana where the credit union matched every medal won by the USA Olympics team in Tokyo with a donation.
“Simply donating money. That simple act of changing their lives and allowing them to go to Orlando, it’s just fantastic. And that’s what Special Olympics is all about,” said Castellana.
But the funding is also allowing Special Olympics New York to invite a few more athletes to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando. Gymnasts like Cayleigh and Stephanie.
Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman surprised the young gymnasts during the event asking, “So, Stephanie and Cayliegh would you like to join us in Orlando at the USA Games?”
Cayleigh quickly answered, “Yes!”
When asked if she was also excited to go to Orlando, Stephanie responded with a, “Yes, please!”
But that was only half of the surprise. Their coach, Marlene Michels, of Ballston Lake, also learned that she will be joining them, too.
“Definitely not prepared for this at all. I was here to surprise my girls and their families, and so I am just speechless right now,” said Michels.
All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families, or caregivers. So the donations go a long way in helping athletes and coaches make the dream of competing at Disney World Resort next year a reality.
For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.