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  • Jim Balamaci

    Posted by elissa mondschein on May 27, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    Jim Balamaci, President and CEO of Special Olympics Alaska, an extraordinary leader who lived to inspire goodness in people and communities, passed away during the morning of Feb. 1, 2018.
    Born in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 9, 1954, James Dennis Balamaci, 63, was the son of the late Dennis Balamaci, and Frusina Balamaci, who visited him often in Kodiak and Anchorage during his 40 years in Alaska.

    Growing up, he was a paper boy, considered his first entrepreneurial venture; he played a variety of sports for church and local leagues in Bridgeport; and he had a number of leadership roles in a St. Dimitrie Church youth organization, MAC-AROY (Macedonian Romanian Orthodox Youth Organization), becoming president for two years. These were the activities that shaped his young life.
    A graduate of Central High School in 1972, he graduated from Iona College in 1976.
    A year later, he followed his dream to go to Alaska, settling in Kodiak, where, always curious and ready to explore, he took on a number of different jobs, including commercial fishing, carpentry and teaching.
    Jim started out as a Special Olympics Alaska volunteer in 1979, and later coached in the 1980s. In 1996, he became the President/CEO of Special Olympics Alaska. Under his leadership, Alaska hosted the 2001 World Winter Games in Alaska, which raised the visibility of the Healthy Athletes Program and School Program, increasing their funding sources. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, once told Jim it was the best world winter games in Special Olympics history.
    In Alaska, Jim was recognized as a leader in his field and received many awards for his work for people with intellectual disabilities. He advocated that through sports training and competition, people with intellectual disabilities gain confidence, friendships, acceptance, inclusion and a healthier lifestyle that exceeds the communities they live in.
    In 2014, he achieved one of his most important goals – completing the Special Olympics Alaska Athlete Training Center and Campus with the help of his community, a 28,000-square-foot facility that includes a fitness center, indoor track, multipurpose sports court and classrooms for both athletes and volunteers. Most recently, Jim and his team had been developing an Aging Unified Athlete Program for Alaska athletes and their families.
    Jim was beloved by his family, and is survived by his mother, Frusina Balamaci; his sister, Marilyn Balamaci in Rye, N.Y.; his sister, Caryn and her husband, Nicholas and their children, Julie and Andrew Balamaci in Scarsdale, N.Y.; his brother, Dean and his wife, JoAnna and their children, Kathryn and Matthew Balamaci in Fairfax, Va.; and a large extended family.
    Details on memorial services will be announced at a later time. For those wishing to honor Jim’s life and his legacy, donations may be made to SpecialOlympicsAlaska.org.
    Arrangements entrusted to Legacy Funeral Homes. To share words of comfort with the family please visit http://www.legacyalaska.com.

    Published in Anchorage Daily News on Feb. 4, 2018.

    elissa mondschein replied 1 year, 9 months ago 1 Member · 1 Reply
  • 1 Reply
  • elissa mondschein

    Jun 19, 2021 at 6:10 pm



    164 Cong Rec E 157

    Extension of Remarks

    February 07, 2018


    115- 2

    Reference Volume:

    Vol. 164 No. 24 Pg. E157

    Mr. YOUNG of Alaska.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in memorial to an Alaskan who dedicated his life to the athletes, families, and Special Olympics Alaska. On February 1, 2018, Alaska lost a one-of-a-kind person, Mr. Jim Balamaci.

    Many executive directors and presidents of non-profit organizations do a lot of good work. They encourage others to provide financial support to their cause, uplift the recipients of their work, and contribute greatly to their communities. Jim however, was much more than just another head of a non-profit organization who did good work for the cause. Jim lived, breathed, and was Special Olympics Alaska. His beloved organization was everything to him, and he fostered an infectious feeling in others to conduct themselves with the same faith, loyalty, and honest approach as he had. Mr. Speaker, I have a hard time knowing that Special Olympics and Alaska have lost this great man. Jim Balamaci “is” Special Olympics Alaska and it will never been the same without him.

    Jim absolutely loved his colleagues and those he served. His presence was a blessing. The best part is that they loved and respected him even more in return.

    Aside from talking to Jim on a regular basis about a wide variety of topics, I had the distinct pleasure of golfing with him every year to benefit Special Olympics Alaska. For eight to ten hours (depending on how I played), I had the rare fortune of being able to admire Jim\’s passion for “his” athletes. During that time, Jim allowed me to bask in his world where everything was righteous, good, and just plain fun despite any challenges.

    It\’s nice to hear about people\’s memories and friendship with Jim. I\’m proud to call Jim my dear friend too. As you know, it is extremely difficult for a Member of Congress to call someone a true friend. Jim embodied the word. He comforted me when my dear wife Lu died, he gave me advice to help my grandson, and I could always count on him to be there for me and my family.

    Mr. Speaker, the sudden loss of Jim was like a hard punch by Mike Tyson to my gut. His loss hurts all of us. I take comfort in knowing that the Lord called Jim home because he needed another great soul in heaven to help him counter everything that is bad.

    To all of the athletes, coaches, family members, sponsors, volunteers, staff, the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Alaska, and to Jim\’s family-I share your grief and your loss today as we remember Jim. I do take comfort in Jim\’s legacy, his friendship, and the privilege of knowing a truly great man for he has not left us behind but walks beside us now. Thank God for Jim.