That’s the word that First Transit employees chose to describe their feelings about the company’s involvement in the Special Olympics USA Games hosted by Princeton University June 12-20.
The Games featured 3,500 athletes from around the USA competing in 16 different sports events. Approximately 1,000 coaches and 10,000 volunteers supported the Special Olympic athletes, with an estimated crowd of 70,000 spectators.
Princeton Tiger Transit, operated by First Transit Princeton University, provided transportation services for the week-long event.
First Transit operated a specially designated bus that ran for five hours daily for the duration of the Games. Additionally, Games attendees took advantage of regularly scheduled Tiger Transit routes around campus.
Assistant General Manager Stanley Subjinski and Operations Supervisor Terry Stein developed all of the scheduling and routes needed to serve athletes, coaches, officials and spectators.
Barbara Baldwin, a First Transit bus driver, told Town Topics, Princeton’s weekly community newspaper, the buses were nearly full all day. “It’s so exciting to see the kids’ faces when they get on,” Baldwin said. “And then when they come out of the events, you see them pumping their fists. It’s just so inspiring,” she said.
“It was inspirational to see the Olympians competing and having a fun time,” said First Transit Area General Manager Steve Skoler. “My team feels honored to have been chosen for this event and even did some extra refresher training in ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) procedures on their own before the event began,” he said.
No less than four years of training, planning and preparing preceded the Games, the purpose of which is to shatter perceptions and celebrate the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.
From Skoler’s point of view, the hard work paid off. “I have always felt that rather than just being the people who provide transportation at the university that we should be a part of the university and the community,” Skoler said.
“Being chosen to be involved in an event such as this proves my point,” he added. “We are not just the other service but an integral part of campus life and the community that surrounds it.”