ROSELAND, NJ — Two outstanding special needs residents from Caldwell were recognized for their accomplishments at the 2020 New Jersey Special Olympics (NJSO) and an equal-opportunity employer was recognized by Roseland's Team 94 for its service to local adults with autism spectrum disorder during recent council meetings held in those respective towns.

Caldwell's Ian Pennington and Joseph Defreitas, who both medaled in the NJSO Winter Games held at Mountain Creek in January, were presented with official proclamations last week to acknowledge their individual achievements.

Defreitas earned two gold medals throughout the competition: one for bowling and another in his division of the 200-meter snowshoe event. Pennington competed in the 100-meter snowshoe event, placing second in his division and earning a silver medal for his participation.

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The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and activities to five-million participants and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.

As he presented them with their proclamations, Caldwell Councilman Jeff Gates stated that both Defreitas and Pennington “worked hard to achieve a goal they set for themselves.”

“I know they had a great coach, who pushed them and their limits so they could prove to themselves and others that hard work will help them achieve anything they set their minds,” said Gates. “I am proud to have such dedicated individuals in Caldwell and hope they set an example to inspire others that hard work pays off.”

On the same night, Nicole Sabato, founder and president of Team 94—a non-profit organization based in Roseland that provides continuing education for adults with autism spectrum disorder—presented Maschio’s Food Service with the 2020 Team 94 Humanitarian Award.

Maschio's Food Service, an equal-opportunity employer, recently announced the hire of Michael John Sabato, the inspiration behind Team 94's mission, as an employee in the cafeteria at Lester C. Noecker Elementary School in Roseland. 

On behalf of Team 94, Sabato congratulated Maschio’s Food Service for its “forward-thinking attitude and desire to provide equal opportunities for all employees.”

“Not only does Maschio's Food Service provide job opportunities for all individuals, but it does so in an environment that is safe, friendly and professional,” she said. “Your work environment allows all of your employees to do their job efficiently, effectively and to make a difference in the lives of all the students that they serve on a daily basis.  

“We would like to honor Frank Maschio, Margaret Carnevale, Leslie Reilley and all the employees at Maschio’s Food Service with the Team 94 Humanitarian Award for 2020. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for embracing the opportunity to provide jobs for all individuals to be contributing members of our community.”

According to Team 94’s mission statement, the organization aims to “create a program in our community that provides continuing education for adults with autism spectrum disorder in critical areas such as daily-living, community participation, vocation, leisure and recreation.” It also strives to provide "the most innovative and effective services” to ensure that members are given the opportunity to continue to pursue “a meaningful, productive, fulfilled, happy life.”

The organization is currently planning its second annual Color Run, which is scheduled for April 5 at 300 Eagle Rock Avenue in Roseland. More information about Team 94 and the upcoming event can be found on the Team 94 website, "Building Hope One Life At A Time."