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Springfield College to Present Tom Waddell Day April 17

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College will celebrate Tom Waddell Day on Friday, April 17 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Flynn Campus Union. The festivities will pay homage to Waddell’s life and commitment to humanics and diversity. The event is free and open to the campus community.

Waddell, who passed away in 1987, was an outstanding athlete, excelling in track and field, gymnastics, and football as a student at the college. He is best known as the founder of the Gay Games, started in 1982 and held every four years since. The Gay Games welcomes more than 8,000 athletes — regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender identity, religion, sex, ethnic origin, athletic ability, or political beliefs — from 47 countries to compete in an inclusive environment.

Waddell represented the U.S. in the decathlon in the 1968 Summer Olympics, where he placed sixth. He also was an infectious-disease specialist and provided medical service for many years in Africa, Asia, and Saudi Arabia, and served in the U.S. Army. He was inducted into the Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.

The celebration will include a film tribute featuring Waddell’s famous interview on ABC’s 20/20, a panel discussion led by his contemporaries, and the dedication of a plaque commemorating Waddell’s humanitarian contributions, including the creation of the Gay Games. Delivering the keynote address will be Springfield College graduate student Rob Kearney, a strongman champion and the first openly gay man to actively compete in his sport at the international level.

Joining Kearney for the festivities will be Jeffrey Pike, a member of the Federation of the Gay Games; Waddell’s fellow class of 1959 members Jack Savoia, Tom Johnson, and Owen Houghton; Springfield College faculty members Mimi Murray and Rick Paar; and Phyllis Plotnick, founder of the Springfield College Tom Waddell Fund.

For more information about Tom Waddell Day, visit springfieldcollege.edu/waddellday.

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