Beacon News

Beacon Staff News: NYC Project Engineer John Gallagher Helps Coach The Phoenix Special Olympics Club

John Gallagher is a Construction Consultant / Project Engineer working out of Beacon's NYC office. In his free time, John is one of the coaches assisting with The Phoenix Special Olympics Club based in Oceanport, NJ. The team trains at Shore Regional High School. John's 16-year-old daughter Anna is one of the athletes on the Phoenix team. John and his wife Tara adopted Anna from Russia when she was 11 months old.

John and Anna joined the Phoenix club in 2010 when Anna was seven years old, after the family moved to NJ from Ireland. The club is run by volunteers and parents. Members of the Monmouth University Track Team also assist with the team's Sunday afternoon training. Athletes participating in the Special Olympics are placed in “Divisions” based on their abilities and age so that they compete against people on an equal basis.

Anna has competed at Local, Area (Monmouth County, NJ) and State level competitions for many years in Track & Field events including Running (100-M, 200-M, and 400-M), Softball Throw and Long Jump. On Saturday June 8th, Anna competed in the 2019 Special Olympics NJ (SONJ) Summer Games held at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) located in Ewing, NJ.

Anna came home with a Gold medal in the softball throw and ran well in the 100-M dash. Each year, more than 2,500 Athletes attend the SONJ State Summer Games. To help ensure participation and fair competition, each athlete is restricted to two events during the State games.

One thing that made the games extra special for Anna and John this year: Anna was invited to help open the games. She did a great job, reading the Athlete's Oath and declaring the games open as she stood on stage in front of the audience of 10,000 people (which included athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators). Joining Anna on stage to open the games were the President of TCNJ and the Mayor of Trenton, NJ.

Congratulations to Anna (and John) on a job well done!

More About The Phoenix Special Olympics Club and Special Olympics NJ (SONJ):

  • In addition to training for and participating in the the NJ State Games, the Phoenix Club organizes events for all of its members such as bowling, swimming, etc. Members can join at age 4 or older and there is no upper age limit.
  • During the 2019 SONJ Summer Games, held June 7th-9th, athletes competed in seven different sports, including Bocce, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, and Track & Field. Competition venues consisted of Armstrong Memorial Park, Schafer Sports Center, and various locations across TCNJ’s campus.
  • SONJ recently celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. The organization runs many programs for athletes participating in Special Olympics events. According to their website: "Special Olympics New Jersey provides sports training and competition opportunities in 24 sports, along with health screenings, fitness programs, athlete leadership and Unified Program initiatives to 25,000 athletes across New Jersey. Thousands of lives have been positively impacted on and off the playing fields, thanks to the tremendous corporate, community and individual contributions, as well as the support of over 22,000 volunteers."