Photo submitted – Pictured (l-r): Allison Perry, Terry Talbot, James McCauley, Christopher Gambier, Shawn Schultz – Vice President Supports and Services, Michael Lamphere, Catherine Loomis – Vice President Community Engagement & Career Development, Heather Scialdo, and Mark Lane – PGA Professional.

Herkimer, NY – Arc Herkimer devoted this past summer to redefining what it means to be a golfer of the Mohawk Valley with the establishment of the Tin Cup Trailblazers. Comprised of six individuals, each with differing ages and abilities, supported by the agency, the Trailblazers golf team spent the summer practicing at the MV Golf & Event Center, also owned and operated by the agency.

Under the tutelage of the course’s PGA Professionals and professionals in training, Mark Lane, Brian Netti, and Robert Davenport, the squad worked its way up to being recognized as a Special Olympics team. As the world’s largest organization for athletes with developmental disabilities and special needs, the Special Olympics is renowned for its devotion to inclusion and community.

“The mission of the Special Olympics aligns so beautifully with our vision at Arc Herkimer of building community, as well as empowering and enriching lives for individuals with disabilities,” says Shawn Schultz, Vice President – Supports and Services at Arc Herkimer.

As a mentor of the Tin Cup Trailblazers, Schultz saw the potential to utilize the course as a health & wellness outlet. Golfers were hand-picked based on personal interests, goals, and potential for success on the course. Each brought a unique skill set and outlook to the team, working their way up from the putting green to the driving range to contests on the course.

“This partnership with the Special Olympics has proven to be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for people supported to utilize our gorgeous golf course while also focusing on athleticism and team spirit,” says Schultz. “The impact has been very rewarding and positive for the athletes; learning a new game, increasing fitness, and building self-confidence in accomplishing new things.”