The New York State Special Olympics Winter Games returned to live competition this past Weekend in Syracuse, New York and John Cronin made the most of it. John and his father and partner, Mark X. Cronin, served as the Masters of Ceremonies for the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night. John then competed in the snowshoe event on Saturday and he capped it off by joining his fellow athletes for a dance on Saturday evening as part of the closing ceremonies.
John said, “I love the Special Olympics and I was so excited for the Winter Games.”
The Opening Ceremonies
The Winter Games kicked off with the Opening Ceremonies which combine pageantry, fun and purpose to set the tone for the games. The night’s festivities began with the procession of teams marching into the Syracuse OnCenter to thunderous applause. Then, Mark Cronin took to the stage to start the evening’s proceedings and introduced John, who came dancing on to the stage injecting the night with energy and enthusiasm.
Mark introduced John, saying, “John’s an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a dancer, and athlete and, with his girlfriend, a lover, and he also happens to have Down syndrome.”
John confirmed each description and then declared, “I have Down syndrome and Down syndrome never holds me back.” The crowd roared.
The two Cronins lauded the athletes and their commitment to their sports and the Special Olympics. They pointed out how the Special Olympics are based on training and competition.
John took great pleasure in introducing his friend and the CEO of Special Olympics New York Stacey Hengsterman. John gave her a new title, “Queen of the Polar Plunge,” because of her commitment to the Polar Plunge fundraising events which she joined around the state.
John introduced Ryan Goldacker, who delivered the athletes welcome, and T.J. Timmons, who sang the national anthem. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon II spoke and brought up athlete Stacy Weimer to recite the Special Olympic Athlete oath. State Senator John Mannion also spoke. Coach Joe Bellini received the Coach of the Year Award.
The Snowshoe Event
Saturday turned out to be a bright and chilly day. John competed as part of the Huntington Blue Devil Team in the snowshoe event at Janesville County Park. The morning saw the athletes compete in preliminary races that determined seeding for the finals.
John first took to the course for the 50-meter sprint which proved to be a highly competitive race with two strides separating the top four finishers. John finished forth in that race. He came back strong in the 100-meter race, bursting from the starting line and pushing across the finish line in second place, earning a silver medal.
The last race of the day was the 4 X 100 relay and it is John’s favorite race because he competes with his teammates Liam, Ryan and Andrew. The team combined for a first-place win and a gold medal. The athletes called Coach Linda Costello-Roth to the medal stand to thank her.
It’s Not Over Until the Last Dance is Over
One might think that after a hard day of competition that the athletes would be worn out, but not these competitors. They returned to the OnCenter for a celebratory dinner and then the closing night events. These included free health screening for the athletes and dancing.
“I love to dance,” said John. He had his dance card full and he twisted the night away with his fellow athletes.
The Special Olympics
John’s Crazy Socks donates 5 percent from the sale of its Sock of the Month Club to the Special Olympics. And they donate 10 percent from the sale of their Polar Plunge Socks and Shark Socks to the Special Olympics. John designed the Shark Socks in honor of his basketball and track team, the Commack Sharks. In addition, they donate 5 percent of their overall earnings to the Special Olympics. John’s Crazy Socks has donated over $105,000 to the Special Olympics.
John Cronin said, “I love the Special Olympics and donating this money makes me very happy.”
John’s Crazy Socks is a special enterprise with a mission to spread happiness. Started by John Cronin and his father, Mark X. Cronin, John’s Crazy Socks is now the world’s largest sock store. Every day, they show what people with differing abilities can accomplish. More than half their employees have a differing ability and five are Special Olympic athletes.
Mark X. Cronin said, “The Special Olympics is very important to John, our family and our business. John started playing Special Olympic soccer at age five and the organization has played an essential role in his development. Without the Special Olympics, there would be no John’s Crazy Socks.”
Giving back is baked into everything John’s Crazy Socks does. The company has donated over $475,000 for their charity partners that include the National Down Syndrome Society, the Autism Society of America, the American Cancer Society, the North Shore Animal League and United Cerebral Palsy.
About Special Olympics New York
Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 51,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with about 250 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.
About John’s Crazy Socks
John’s Crazy Socks was inspired by John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, and his love of colorful and fun socks—what he calls his “crazy socks.” He and his father, Mark X. Cronin, started the company as a social enterprise with a mission of Spreading Happiness™. They do this by offering socks people can love that allows an expression of one’s true self… and by giving back, by creating jobs for people with differing abilities and by Spreading Happiness™.
For more information about John’s Crazy Socks, visit our webpage, Facebook page, Instagram account or YouTube channel. You can also contact us at 631-760-5625 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.