Jackson Special Olympics Team Wins 14 Gold Medals

Jackson Mayor Michael Reina and members of the Jackson Bocce Team gather at Township Hall following his presentation of a proclamation honoring their successful year of competition. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

JACKSON – It took a lot of hard work, but they brought home the gold. And the town heaped praise on them.

The township’s mayor and council gave praise and presented a proclamation to the Jackson Bocce Team, which received 14 medals this year in the Special Olympics competition.

The audience of the session was made up of team members each wearing crimson polo shirts. They received kudos, and their coach Elaine Westgate, a former township resident now living in Howell, accepted the proclamation from Reina.

Team members compete on the state and national level. There are two types of competitions those that involve two players, one of whom has special needs and a four person team competition.

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“It has been a very rewarding year for them. They have been outstanding,” Mayor Michael Reina said.

“It really warms your heart to see this,” Councilman Scott Martin said.

Councilwoman Ann Updegrave, who chaired the meeting, said “we are all very proud of this team.”

“It is nice to be recognized,” Westgate said. She explained that the teams are divided up into 13 areas, and that they are a part of the Monmouth-Ocean County area of Special Olympics.

Westgate’s son Paddy is a special needs athlete. He is also a player on the team and has scored numerous medals in recent years. He said he even traveled to Athens, Greece for an international competition in 2010.

“When we started, we were all Jackson residents, but now it has opened up to those outside of Jackson,” Westgate said. “We used to practice at a resident’s home but the township built us a bocce court in Johnson Park which we began using this year. We really appreciate that.”

“I used to live in Jackson and drive a school bus here. This is home for us,” Westgate said. She has served as coach of the team for many years and has been involved in the Special Olympics for 28 years. “I started off with gymnastics which is what my son began competing in.”

Jackson Mayor Michael Reina presents a proclamation to Jackson Bocce Team Coach Elaine Westgate honoring the team’s outstanding record of receiving 14 gold medals this year in the Special Olympics competition. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

“We have six teams made up of four players and two players. It is a program of inclusion and it is unified with those that have and do not have special needs. We have 16 players total,” Westgate said.

“We practice four to five hours in Johnson Park every Saturday. During the winter we practice as long as it is 40 degrees,” Westgate added. “This year we won 14 gold medals.”

Westgate said one of the team’s players carried the torch in a competition in Seattle. The teams compete against other teams in the state and other states.

Updegrave gave thanks to Councilman Barry Calogero who agreed to attend the meeting via phone due to his recovery from surgery. “I appreciate Barry doing this as we hate to cancel meetings. Without a meeting we couldn’t pay the bills.”

Council President Kenneth J. Bressi and Vice Council President Rob Nixon were both absent during the session leaving only Updegrave and Martin.

The meeting featured no ordinances on second reading and there was no council discussion. No one came forward to speak during the public comment periods.

Among the resolutions passed were a contract award to Lucas Construction for an improvement project to New Central Avenue in the amount of $898,898 and a contract to award C.J. Hesse, Inc. to perform improvements to Woodlane Road in the amount of $545,091.20.

The consent agenda included approval for the appointment of Danielle Sinowitz as clerk 1 in the office of the Township Clerk Ann Marie Eden.

The council also requested approval for the insertion of a special item of revenue and appropriation pursuant to state regulations for the 2018 area plan contract program grant for the Department of Recreation and Senior services through the Ocean County office of Senior Services which would increase the grant amount by $7,000.

Council members approved the execution of a detention/stormwater basin ownership, operation and maintenance agreement with Whitesville Commons Partners, LLC.