Pratt & Whitney Employees Value Spirit of Friendship, Competition at Special Olympics

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On a beautiful spring day in East Hartford, Connecticut, inside Pratt & Whitney's iconic hangar, two employees, Bob Gallipeau and John Zepp, sit casually in the massive space, sharing stories about their decades of volunteering for Special Olympics. Each story highlights the fulfilling experiences each gets by giving of their time year, after year, after year.

"The enjoyment out of it, being with them (the athletes), they become your good friends too," Gallipeau said. "You know them all, you know them by name, and they come back every year."

Zepp, listening to Gallipeau's response, agreed whole-heartedly.

"How dedicated and serious they (the athletes) are to it, but how much joy they get out of it, it's just a pleasure to watch. It's fun to watch and see the true love of what they're doing – whatever sport they're doing," Zepp said.

United Technologies has more than 35 years supporting Special Olympics. In fact, Pratt & Whitney has hosted floor hockey at the hangar in East Hartford for Special Olympics winter games since 1988. Additionally, Pratt & Whitney has been a supporting sponsor of the winter games.

Zepp and Gallipeau have had various responsibilities for both summer and winter events. Now, with more than half-a-century of combined volunteer experience, the two have been selected to be involved in the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games in New Jersey later this month. Zepp will be coordinator for aquatics, and Gallipeau will serve as the awards manager for the same discipline.

"(The athletes) are not doing it to beat somebody else, in some cases, not even to win. (It's) just the camaraderie with the other athletes," Zepp said.

Gallipeau, like Zepp, enjoys watching the pure joy athletes get at finishing an event – and holding a medal.

"You get to see exactly what you helped accomplish or helped them accomplish," he said.

Both men represent a company deep with tradition – by continuing a time-honored tradition of helping others.

"It doesn't take a whole lot of time," Zepp said, "it's just a little bit of time, a couple of weekends out of the year, a couple of hours here and there, and you get a lot more out of it than putting into it in my opinion."