For more than 10 years, Donna DePamphilis has served as a volunteer coach and committee member for Special Olympics of Charles County. Special Olympics is the only program in the county to offer year-round sports training and competition to children and adults with mental retardation and closely-related developmental disabilities. Athletes training in polyhockey, skiing, basketball, bowling, soccer, swimming, volleyball and track and field have all benefited from DePamphilis' sports and medical expertise, good humor, energy and commitment to their well-being. As director of both the Individual Skills Program and the Motor Activities Training Program (MATP), DePamphilis serves the most severely handicapped individuals.
Regularly she travels to the homes of these athletes and provides individualized training programs, thus allowing them to strive for their personal best without the hindrance of comparison to others. She encourages 100% inclusion regardless of the athletes' limitations. On overnight events, DePamphilis, who is certified in CPR and First Aid, always volunteers to chaperone the neediest athletes, which may involve tending to their personal needs of bathing, medicating and feeding.
"Without Donna, many of our multi-handicapped athletes would not have the opportunity to attend such events," remarked Pam Little, Area Director, Special Olympics, Charles County, "Donna knows so many of our counties' special needs individuals that even the local hospital calls her on occasion to help communicate with and calm a frantic patient."
DePamphilis has been a leader in the MATP program since its beginnings in 1989, not only in Charles County, but also across the state. She has attended annual Special Olympics Maryland Leadership Conferences to speak on behalf of MATP and the athletes that participate. She advocates for these athletes in her school where she teaches a special education class as well as at teachers' meetings and in the community. She is constantly recruiting volunteers and athletes, which has enabled the program to grow considerably over the years.