Hudson Special Olympics Football players look to defend title

Undefeated in eight years going into Aug. 9 game

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Hudson -- Football in August. For those unsure whether the Cleveland Browns will be successful this year, the 9th Annual Hudson Challenger Football Game guarantees winners for those who play Aug. 9.

The Special Olympic team, which has won every year in its past eight games, will be heavily favored this year, according to event coordinator Mark Guadagni.

"The question will be whether the seventh-grade Hawks team even scores," Guadagni said. "They have learned to accept defeat graciously and have fun doing it."

The Hudson Hawks Association and the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics invite residents and friends to attend the 9th Annual Challenger Football Game at 4 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Scott Malson Memorial Field near the Hudson Middle School. Gates open at 3 p.m. and the public can meet community officials, athletes and special guests. The game lasts approximately one hour. There will be food and refreshments available.

At least 22 Special Olympic athletes are returning this year, Guadagni said. The team will be coached by John Havel and Pete Pruszynski. The seventh-grade Hawk team will be coached by Mike DeLeo, Brian Finkenthal and Martin Haas.

"We need a big turnout to show our commitment for these special athletes from the Special Olympics," he said.

The game will highlight special athletes from the Hudson Chapter Special Olympics organization in a football game to showcase their love for the game and their special athletic talents, Guadagni said. Hudson High School football players will coach the Special Olympic players in a game against the seventh-grade Hudson Hawks football team.

The Hudson High School cheerleaders, the Hudson Hawk cheerleaders, Special Olympic cheerleaders, Kent State University cheerleaders and KSU mascot "Flash" the golden eagle will kick up their heels and lead the public to cheer on the teams, Guadagni said.

The Hudson High School Marching Band will signal the start of the game by marching onto the field. They will perform during half-time and play a victory song after every touchdown, which is often.

The Hudson High School football players will have an opportunity to encourage and teach the Special Olympic athletes about football while the seventh-grade Hawk players, as opponents, can share the passion and love of the game, Guadagni said.

The game provides the community a greater awareness of all the special athletes in the city of Hudson and an opportunity to see them compete, he said.

Organizers are planning to do a memorial to Richard "Dick" Malson, who died July 10.

"He's the reason that stadium exists," Guadagni said.

Also, following the event, the fun will continue at Sidelines Bar and Grill at 5893 Akron Cleveland Road in Hudson with an outdoor patio for celebrating. The owners are Hudson Hawk coaches.

"We want to support the folks who are supporting our event," Guadagni said.

Also, donations will be accepted at the gate on behalf of the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics, and all proceeds go directly to the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics.

"Every bit will go to Hudson chapter for their upcoming athletic events for current and future years," Guadagni said.

The Hudson Hawks Board and the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics welcome all special athletes.

If you have any questions or ideas for the event, or you know of some special individuals who are not part of the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics, call Mark Guadagni at 330-653-9515.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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