|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
||For More Information, Contact:
|August 9 , 2005
||Coria Holland, Director of Communications
||617-727-5300, ext. 258
WORCESTER P&F PROBATION EMPLOYEE PREPARES FOR
WINTER 2006 SPECIAL OLYMPICS THIS SUMMER
As the East Coast continues to ride a steady heat wave this summer, Special Olympics Gold Medalist Mark Polaski prepares to ride the slopes this winter as a competitor in the “Glide” Ski division of the Worcester Special Olympics.
Undaunted by the heat, Polaski, a 32- year Probation Case Specialist at the Worcester County Probate & Family Probation Department, takes his workout to the beach where he walks along the coast line of Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. He also rises early each day for a walk around his Worcester neighborhood. Polaski also fits in a little exercise going back and forth between the two offices of the Worcester Probate & Family Court Probation Department, located in two separate buildings, during the work day. “Forget the elevator,” he says, “I like to take the stairs.”
Born with cerebral palsy, Polaski said he gets his drive from his parents, particularly his father, Joseph, who always challenged and encouraged him to get the most out of life.
“When I was born, the doctors said I would never get out of a wheelchair,” he said recently. “The Special Olympics has totally changed my life.”
“When I first started, I skied with a harness. A skiing instructor at Mount Wachusett took me to the top of the mountain and I said where is my harness? He said you don’t need one. I said okay and when I went down, I said whoah!! There is a kind of freedom skiing downhill. It’s breathtaking. I’m sorry that I didn’t try it sooner in life.”
Nicknamed “Duke,” Polaski competes in the Glide division of the ski competition which involves skiing or gliding downhill. Next year, he plans to participate in the “Super Glide” which would require him to take a chairlift to the top of the hill and ski down.
Polaski, who walks with a limp, gets around without any assistance. He first became a Special Olympian in 2003 at the encouragement of his sister. Polaski, took home two gold medals and one silver in competitions. Last winter, he injured his leg two weeks before the competition but competed anyway. He came in fourth when a pain in his leg flared up and caused him to fall. Despite this, he did not give up. When he fell and was unable to ski the rest of the way, he crawled to the finish line.
Worcester Probate & Family Probation Chief Marjorie Ursoleo and Worcester Probate and Family Judge Ronald W. King said he carries this same courage and perseverance over to his job.
Chief Ursoleo said of Polaski, “We are so lucky to have Mark working with us. He is so hard working and a dedicated team player.”
“He skis like he works, full speed ahead,” commented Judge King. “He is a real inspiration. He never asks for special treatment and he is always anxious to help.”
Polaski, in fact, has many fans in the Worcester Court System. His colleagues often turn out for his competitions and threw him a big party replete with a Championship Banner and cake.
“My co-workers give me a special feeling. When they say ‘great going,’ I feel so honored,” he said with a smile. “I love the people and the atmosphere. I work with marvelous people.”
Polaksi will extend his preparation from summer to fall with the same routine. Three weeks after Thanksgiving, he will start practicing at Ward Hill in Shrewsbury and at Mount Wachusetts where he holds a part-time job.
“I hate to say it but I can’t wait until the first snow. I’m so pumped up. I enjoy the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics. It’s at the Worcester Centrum (now called The DCU Center),” he said.
Polaski encourages others to consider joining the Special Olympics, “Go for it. Get involved. It’s great!!!!”
The Special Olympics was established in 1968 by Eunice Shriver Kennedy. Special Olympics is a non-profit, international program of sports training and competition for individuals who are physically and mentally handicapped. The program provides year-round training and athletic competition for more than one million athletes in almost 150 countries.