“Special Olympics helps me to believe in myself and do more things that make me happy,” said John Paul Carr, of Belfast.

Special Olympics Maine awarded $50,000 Neighborhood Champion grant

Mon, 03/20/2023 - 7:30pm

SOUTH PORTLAND — Bank of America has awarded Special Olympics Maine a $50,000 Neighborhood Champion grant to help the nonprofit organization grow and reach more athletes with intellectual disabilities in Maine. The Neighborhood Champions program is an extension of the bank’s signature philanthropic initiative, Neighborhood Builders, the largest corporate philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership in the country, according to Bank of America, in a news release.

Special Olympics Maine currently serves more than 5,000 athletes and offers more than 70 events year-round at the local, state, national and international levels. Providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics offers opportunities for them to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.  

“For over 20 years we have built upon an ever-growing relationship with Bank of America,” said Phil Geelhoed, President and CEO of Special Olympics Maine, in a news release. “What started as support for our annual State Summer Games, has developed into life-changing opportunities for both our athletes and their employees, when they started ‘Team Bank of America,’ a local Special Olympics program in the mid-coast area. Being named a Neighborhood Champion is not only an honor, but another way that Bank of America has found to support our program and further enhance the lives of those we serve!” 

In addition to the $50,000 grant, Special Olympics Maine will participate in virtual leadership training delivered by experts in the nonprofit sector on topics like human capital management, increasing financial sustainability and storytelling. This will enable Special Olympics Maine to bring its programming to new venues around the state, recruit more volunteers and coaches, and reach more athletes, like John Paul Carr of Belfast. 

“[Special Olympics] helps me to believe in myself and do more things that make me happy, walk more, and help others in need,” said Carr, addressing a group of teammates and Special Olympics representatives gathered in Bank of America’s Belfast location for the Neighborhood Champions announcement.  

A resident of Belfast, Carr has been a Bank of America employee for 23 years and a Special Olympics athlete for 35 years, competing in multiple events including bocce and the 100-meter walk. 

Carr’s fellow athletes and Bank of America teammates Dan Rancourt, Sherri Carr, and Anna Strout also shared what Special Olympics has meant to them. For Rancourt, his favorite part of being a Special Olympics athlete is the opportunity to meet new people, saying it has encouraged him to “train harder and put my goals even higher.” Sherri Carr and Anna Strout love cheering on their teammates and enjoying the health benefits of being active. 

“Special Olympics embodies what it means to be a Neighborhood Champion,” said Brian King, president of Bank of America Maine. “The nonprofit supports thousands of athletes in Maine, including more than a dozen local Bank of America teammates. We’ve seen firsthand how Special Olympics athletes gain the skills and self-confidence to succeed in competition, in the workplace, and all areas of life.” 

Made up of 300 employees with intellectual disabilities, Bank of America Support Services is an in-house marketing and fulfillment operation supporting every major line of business within the enterprise. Belfast is home to one of four Bank of America Support Services groups in the U.S., where the bank employs more than 50 individuals with intellectual disabilities.

In Maine, four nonprofits have been selected as Neighborhood Champions since 2019, with the bank investing $200,000 into these local organizations. 


About Special Olympics Maine 

Special Olympics Maine’s mission remains as vital today as it did when the movement was founded in 1968- striving to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people. Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment—on the playing field and in life.  Our goal is to reach out to all individuals with intellectual disabilities in Maine—and their families. We do this through a wide range of trainings, competitions, health screenings and fund-raising events.  In Special Olympics, the power and joy of sport shifts focus to what our athletes CAN do, not what they can't. Attention to disabilities fades away. Instead, we see our athletes' talents and abilities—and applaud them for all that they can do. https://www.somaine.org/ 


About Bank of America 

Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 67 million consumer and small business clients with approximately 3,900 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATM and award-winning digital banking with approximately 56 million verified digital users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business households through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and approximately 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.